Lotus turbine protesters' court victory




Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury


Friends of Hethel Ltd JR

06 July 2009

Campaigners against a controversial wind turbine scheme at a Norfolk sports car manufacturer have won their latest legal bid to get a planning decision overturned.

Objectors welcomed the news after it emerged that a group of local residents had won the right to challenge the construction of three 120metre masts at Lotus Cars.

The proposals for turbines at Hethel, which would meet the sports car company's energy requirements, were approved by one vote at a South Norfolk Council planning committee last year after the Ministry of Defence withdrew its opposition.

Local residents, who claim that the proposed Ecotricity wind turbines would blight the community, have now been granted a judicial review by a High Court judge.

Mr Justice King said that the Friends of Hethel group had an "arguable case" in their bid to get the decision for the project at the Lotus test track quashed. The challenge is now set to proceed to a full High Court hearing. A date has not yet been set.

Alan Benstead, chairman of the Runga action group, which stands for 'Are you naïve gullible apathetic?' against the wind farm, last night said he was not surprised that the case had been granted a judicial review.

"It is a natural process and the application was made on very strong grounds. The Friends of Hethel is a group of very concerned residents who are trying to preserve the quality of life in Hethel."

"We have been fighting for a long time and there are very sound objections to the visual intrusion of a very pleasant area and there are health and safety grounds. They [the approved turbines] are a considerable size and there are properties within 300metres of the turbines," he said.

South Norfolk Council's planning committee voted 8-7 in favour of the project last July, which would supply enough power for Lotus and an estimated 1,000 homes.

Friends of Hethel claim that the scheme should never have gone to a main planning committee after it was rejected by South Norfolk Council's north west area committee. They also say that the noise impact of the proposed masts was not properly assessed.

No one from Lotus or Ecotricity was available for comment.