Wind farm hope for WWII airfield

A SECOND World War airfield near one of Suffolk's most historic towns could be the new home for a £10million wind farm.A plan revealed today by Saxon Windpower shows that the company is proposing to build up to six 100-metre high turbines on Parham Airfield, near Framlingham, which is now mainly arable farmland and the site of a museum displaying war-time artefacts.

A SECOND World War airfield near one of Suffolk's most historic towns could be the new home for a £10million wind farm.

A plan revealed today by Saxon Windpower shows that the company is proposing to build up to six 100-metre high turbines on Parham Airfield, near Framlingham, which is now mainly arable farmland and the site of a museum displaying war-time artefacts. The turbines are likely to be visible for miles around.

Saxon Windpower, based in Ipswich, believes the site is among the best in Suffolk and that the development will help meet government targets for "green" renewable energy.

The six turbines would generate enough electricity for 6,500 homes – about 13% of the domestic electricity needs of the Suffolk Coastal district. According to the company, the project would also generate £1.5m-worth of contracts during construction. Preliminary talks have already been held with district council planning officials and consultation is about to start with surrounding villages, but a planning application is unlikely to be submitted for some months.

Rod Edwards, a director of Saxon Windpower, said work was currently focussed on consulting the council and statutory bodies such as English Nature and the Ministry of Defence over an environmental impact assessment.

"We want to find out what local people think about our potential project throughout the development process and before we finalise our proposals," he added.

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Ivan Jowers, chairman of Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control committee, said the Government was encouraging wind power as a way of providing alternative and sustainable sources of energy.

"While there may be serious national reasons for welcoming such wind turbines, as the local planning authority we will have to consider whether it is appropriate for such a facility to be built at Parham," he added.

District councillor Colin Hart said he would be consulting all nine parishes in his ward – Bruisyard, Cransford, Little Glemham, Great Glemham, Hacheston, Marlesford, Parham, Rendham and Sweffling.

"There are many questions and concerns that need to be answered by the developers," he added.

"It will undoubtedly have a visual impact in an otherwise unspoiled rural area and both I and people living in the vicinity need to know more about just how much noise it will create."

Peter Kindred, whose family farming partnership owns the former airfield, said he and his daughter Alys had approached Saxon Windpower to explore the wind farm idea.

"I've been farming all my life and I've always followed the signals given out by the government, first to drain land to grow wheat and then to diversify," he added. "Putting up some wind turbines seems to be a natural progression – another form of diversification."

Lord Cranbrook, clerk of Great Glemham Parish Council, said he did not wish to comment before Monday night's council meeting.

A mobile public exhibition of the plan for the wind farm will be held at Parham Airfield on January 14 between 11am and 7pm. A free minibus service will operate between the exhibition and surrounding villages and Saxon Windpower officials will be available to answer questions.

Saxon Windpower has just abandoned a £20m 10-turbine wind farm project at South Elmham St James, near Halesworth, following a campaign by residents.

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