An MP has branded an energy firm’s appeal to build a controversial wind farm a “complete waste of public money” – and urged them to pull the plug on the scheme once and for all.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham spoke out against proposals for nine turbines near Terrington St Clement and Clenchwarton after the applicant Coriolis Energy last week launched an appeal against West Norfolk’s refusal of the plan earlier this year.
It comes as new figures reveal that planning permissions for onshore wind farms have ground to a halt since new government rules were unveiled in June.
In the nine weeks since Energy Secretary Amber Rudd announced the government was scrapping subsidies for all new onshore wind farm developments from April, not a single council refusal has been overturned.
Since the ministerial statement on June 18, 45 of the 47 appeals lodged across the UK have been dismissed, and the other two were invalid, figures from the Planning Inspectorate show.
Nationally, in the year to June 18, 66 out of 218 turbine appeals (30 per cent) from developers were allowed.
The government has also imposed stricter regulations on mast locations and changed its guidance to prevent projects without local support.
Mr Bellingham said he was strongly opposed to Coriolis’ Ongar Hill wind farm development, and felt it would be “quite wrong” for the Inspectorate to overturn West Norfolk Council’s decision in February to turn it down.
He told the Lynn News: “It would damage the local landscape and be deeply unpopular. One of the joys of Marshland is the big open skies allowing you to see miles and miles around, and this plan would damage that.
“We already have over 1,000 wind turbines in The Wash and along the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coast, and they are making a difference in terms of renewable energy.
“Nine turbines in this location would make very little difference. The benefits would be minimal but the cost on the environment would be huge.”
He continued: “I would advise the applicant to call it a day. It would be a complete waste of public money taking this to appeal. It is their right to take it to appeal, but it would be far better to replace it with a smaller, micro scheme, of two to three turbines, nearer the sea wall.
“I don’t think this plan is in any way sustainable, and it will be far better, given the new guidelines, if the appeal was pulled at this stage.”
As reported in Friday’s Lynn News, anti-turbine campaigner Gerry Rider, from Terrington, said: “The government is against any more onshore wind farms being built. Although this plan was in the pipeline before this was decided, I hope it will be enough grounds to say ‘no’. It’s the last chance of a fight we have.”
Coriolis Energy project manager Cath Ibbotson said the company has asked for an independent planning inspector to review the case as it still considers Ongar Hill “an excellent site” for a wind farm.