Dismissed appeal could spell the end for proposed Hempnall wind farm

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A proposal to construct a wind farm in Hempnall has been dealt what a Norfolk MP describes as the “final blow” on Tuesday after its appeal was thrown out by a central government cabinet minister.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles dismissed an appeal lodged by energy business TCI Renewables to build three 126m-high wind turbines at Bussey’s Loke - plans which have attracted widespread local opposition.

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, said: “The residents of Hempnall have had this hanging over them for seven years and I am delighted that Eric Pickles has listened to my constituents. Their determination has finally paid off.

“I have said all along that the gentle rural landscape of South Norfolk is not a suitable place for industrial-scale wind turbines. This decision must surely be the final blow for these misbegotten proposals.”

Mr Pickles was asked to take the final decision after an independent planning inspector recommended the application for approval, following South Norfolk Council’s initial majority vote for refusal back in January.

The Secretary of State said that while the turbines would have environmental benefits towards the combatting of climate change, the harm to the character of the Hempnall Conservation Area meant “the impacts of the proposals are not, and cannot be made, acceptable.”

Councillor John Fuller, South Norfolk Council leader, said: “Wind turbine proposals have divided this community for too many years.

“This decision finally draws a line under the matter and I am pleased it makes it clear the Council was entitled to make the decision it did and for the right reasons when refusing the most recent application.”

TCI is understood to now have six weeks to launch a further appeal against this decision.

Protest group SHOWT (Stop Hempnall’s Onshore Wind Turbines) said this was a “great result for democracy”, but that they were prepared for the saga to continue.

Geoff Moulton, chairman of SHOWT, told the Diss Express: “My reaction is one of joy. It’s really great that central government is at last listening to public opinion.

“Our campaign has been going for eight years. It’s cost the community collectively hundreds of thousands of pounds.

He added: “We never say never. While there is that opportunity (for TCI to make another appeal), we have to be aware of it.

“When they come, we will be ready.”

TCI have not announced what action they will take following this failed appeal. The Diss Express reached out for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of going to print.

The Oxfordshire-based company, which is also awaiting the decision on their appeal for another proposed wind farm at Upper Vaunces Farm in Pulham St Mary, earlier stated these turbines would generate enough energy to power around 4,000 homes annually.

They also claimed in May of this year that public support for onshore wind farms was at record level, claiming 70 per cent of people in the UK backed its development nationwide.