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Row blows up over wind farm approvals

PUBLISHED: 07:47 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:48 06 July 2010

Councils were yesterday told to "face up to their obligations" and allow more wind farms in the countryside.

Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said Britain's targets for green energy were being held up by rural residents anxious to protect their "chocolate box" views.

Councils were yesterday told to “face up to their obligations” and allow more wind farms in the countryside.

Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said Britain's targets for green energy were being held up by rural residents anxious to protect their “chocolate box” views.

The debate over onshore wind farms in East Anglia hotted up further as the founder of a company behind some of most controversial schemes said decision making should be taken out of local councillors' hands as were are too easily swayed by pressure groups.

But a council leader hit back and insisted local members “had every right” to have the final say on wind farms.

Mr Prescott, who was speaking at the annual conference of the British Wind Energy Association in Liverpool, said councils were failing to meet their responsibilities to tackle climate change.

The conference was told the number of approvals for wind farm planning applications nationally had fallen to a record low of 25pc.

Mr Prescott said: “People who have moved out of our towns and have a nice chocolate box view,

they have bought that and I understand it, but at the end of the day you have got to strike a balance of what is in the national interest and, frankly, they are the ones who will suffer first because these are also areas in danger of massive floods caused by climate change.”

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity which has spent the past seven years battling to be allowed to put up wind turbines in Shipdham, near Dereham, said wind energy was the only form of energy-generating technology that was decided by local councillors, and that the government had “left the decisions in the wrong hands.”

Mr Vince said district council members were swayed by Nimby pressure groups who were often the loudest voices, and he called for decisions to be moved up a government level to at least county council level.

But William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council, said: “It is right and proper that local people are consulted and approving of things built in their own communities. That said I do not believe in Nimbyism.”

Nick Hoare, a member of Residents of Daffy Green (RODG) which has been fighting against wind turbines being put up at Shipdham, described Mr Prescott's comments as a “sweeping generalisation.”

He said: “We have no objection to wind turbines but they need to be put somewhere sensible like out to sea where they would be more efficient.”

Among wind turbine schemes in Norfolk and Suffolk:

*Plans for three turbines at Lotus Cars at Hethel have been approved, but are subject to a High Court appeal by local campaigners,

*A planning inquiry has just come to an end for seven Enertrag UK turbines at Hempnall, which were rejected by South Norfolk Council last year.

*A wind testing mast has been approved for the former Pulham Airfield between Rushall, Dickleburgh, Pulham Market and Pulham St Mary, which could pave the way for three masts by TCI Renewables

*SLP Energy has resubmitted plans to build four turbines 105m high in Hemsby, near Yarmouth.

*Proposals to build wind turbines near a Bernard Matthews factory in north Suffolk could be approved by planners today.The company wants to build five 100m high turbines on land at the former airfield in Holton, near Halesworth.

*Campaigners are fighting plans to build 12 wind turbines on land in Ringsfield near Beccles.

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