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Turbine rivals 'hopeful' of planning win

PUBLISHED: 07:13 29 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:58 06 July 2010

Emily Dennis

Both sides in a dispute over controversial Suffolk wind turbine plans say they are confident of winning a re-run of the planning battle sparked when a councillor was forced quit his cabinet post.

Both sides in a dispute over controversial Suffolk wind turbine plans last night said they were confident of winning a re-run of the planning battle sparked when a councillor was forced quit his cabinet post.

Chris Punt, Waveney District Council's portfolio holder for finance, stepped down following complaints about his conduct at a planning meeting at which Bernard Matthews' plans to build five wind turbines to power a plant at Holton, near Halesworth, were rejected.

Yesterday, as the Tory-run district council moved swiftly to appoint Mike Ryland as the new portfolio holder for finance, the row intensified after opposition Labour councillors called for Mr Punt to quit the authority completely.

At the planning meeting last Wednesday, Mr Punt spoke against the plans but did not declare that he lived in the parish and failed to mention that he worked for a firm which may be affected by the approval of the application. The planning decision will now have to be re-run and the council has reported the matter to the Standards Board for England.

Last night a Bernard Matthews spokesman said it remained committed to its plans. “Bernard Matthews were disappointed that the Holton wind turbine proposal was initially rejected. We understand that there will be a further hearing of the application by Waveney District Council but we await details on this.

“We remain committed to developing renewable energy and believe the wind turbine proposals support the aims of the government's 'Renewables Obligation' and support our own corporate responsibility goals.”

Bernard Matthews' green plans include building two turbines near the firm's headquarters in Weston Longville and two more at North Pickenham.

Adrian Simpson-James, co-ordinator for campaign group Westhall Wind Watch, which has fought the Holton proposals from the outset, said: “Westhall Wind Watch regrets the effect this issue may have on progress towards a final decision on the Holton wind farm application.

“We remain confident that the facts surrounding the application led to the right decision being made by the development control committee. If the application is referred back to the committee we trust members to continue to show good judgement and common sense.

“Plans revealed in the last few days for a huge expansion in offshore wind farms around our region confirm our assertion that small-scale onshore wind farms like the ones proposed by Bernard Matthews Ltd are unnecessary and irrelevant; the damage they do to the local area and its people greatly outweighs the tiny contribution they might make to the country's renewable energy needs. The weight of argument against this wind farm will win the day.”

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