Planning inquiry into Fenland wind farm scheme to begin next week

FenRATs campaigners protested at the Boathouse in Wisbech in February 2011 when a public inquiry was

FenRATs campaigners protested at the Boathouse in Wisbech in February 2011 when a public inquiry was held into plans for wind farms at Floods Ferry and near Whittlesey. The Floods Ferry scheme was rejected, with the Whittlesey application approved. - Credit: Archant

AN eight-day inquiry begins next Tuesday into controversial plans to build a wind farm between two Fenland villages.

Wind Ventures Ltd has lodged an appeal after both Fenland District Council and South Holland District Council refused its application, for six 126-metre high turbines between Gorefield and Sutton St James, last year.

Among those giving evidence at the inquiry will be NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay, South Holland MP John Hayes, East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer and representatives from campaign group FenRATs, which was created to fight the scheme at Treading Bank.

The inquiry will end on May 3 and a visit to the site, which crosses the boundaries of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, will take place the following week.

A final decision will be announced by the Planning Inspectorate on June 17.

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Michelle Coleman, spokesman for FenRATS, said: “If this were approved it would have a devastating impact on local communities, the landscape and wildlife.

“There would be a significant affect on the surrounding villages including Tydd St Giles, Gorefield, Sutton St Edmund, Parson Drove, Newton, Leverington, and Sutton St James.

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“The adverse visual impact on residential amenity is one of the main issues. There are some properties as near as 650 and 750 metres to the proposed turbines.

“There is a pubic footpath and bridleway which runs through the proposed site. Many people own and ride horses in the area. Noise and shadow flicker are other concerns.”

The application for the wind farm was originally submitted in February 2011. Four of the turbines are in Fenland with two in South Holland.

FenRATs has engaged a barrister and expert witnesses for the inquiry. Campaigners have spent more than £30,000 on the campaign.

Mrs Coleman said: “We are just ordinary people. We are not a wealthy community. We cannot afford this.

“However, we will lose even more money if this scheme is granted. Our house prices will fall and the area will become an unattractive place to live in.

“This is one of the few remaining areas of the Fens free from industrial wind turbines and our precious landscape character must be preserved.”

• The appeal starts on Tuesday, April 23, at 10am at the Boathouse Business Centre in Wisbech and will run from Tuesday to Friday on consecutive weeks.

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