Winds of change: onshore turbines in Tuttington?

Most of us are aware that something odd is happening to our climate. The evidence now seems overwhelming this has something to do with human activity causing the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere leading to a progressive rise in global temperatures. As temperatures increase, sea levels rise – of particular concern here in Norfolk – and weather becomes more chaotic.

Traditional means of generating our energy to heat and light our homes and run our factories and public buildings has in the past relied too much on burning fossil fuels. This returns carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere. Nuclear power stations generate a lot of energy without producing significant greenhouse gas but the waste products are complicated to manage. 
This is where solar and wind farms benefit us by producing relatively clean energy. The North Sea off the Norfolk coast in particular has become home to ever increasing numbers of large wind turbine farms. For the most part, these are relatively uncontroversial, unless you are unlucky enough to live near to the onshore cable trench runs taking electricity to sub-stations around the county.
However, onshore wind farm development has been relatively limited. This is due in part to the government introducing planning rules in 2015 whereby local residents (or just one objecting resident) have the final say over wind farm development in their area.

The government is now reviewing the planning rules with a view to relaxing the restrictions limiting onshore wind farm development. Folk will put forward strong arguments both for and against onshore wind farm development but whatever your particular view, it is likely you will see more of those rotating fans in a neighbourhood near you in the coming years. For the new rules, it has been suggested that once again local residents will have a say but perhaps not the final say as before. There might also be benefits with local residents perhaps receiving a discount to their electricity bill.

But what about us in Tuttington? At present nobody knows quite what the new planning rules will be, where onshore wind farms will be located, and who will be allowed to develop them. Some district councils have published studies on potential onshore sites for wind farm development. In 2009, Broadland and South Norfolk District Councils commissioned a report on sustainable energy as part of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) programme. The GNDP have been involved in developing our regional Local Plan called the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP). Long term planning policy under the GNLP includes Aylsham, Burgh and Tuttington.
As part of their 2009 plan, the GNDP produced a map covering the greater Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk areas identifying potential sites for installation of “…large wind turbines…”. Sites were classified as “constrained zones” where installation of large wind turbines was less likely, and “less constrained zones” which presumably had fewer reasons not to develop.
The portion of the map which contains Tuttington is reproduced below with the less-constrained zones shown in blue. Although the map is not good quality, it is clear we have some less-constrained zones near to the village including one in Kings Beck valley and another along the Norwich Road between Tuttington and White Cross crossroads.
Blue: less constrained zones for "large wind turbines"; Arrows,' blue' zones in Tuttington

There are some residents who might welcome large wind turbines near the village. There will be others who will not.  But, before the latter group start manning the barricades there are a few things to ponder. First, the report is nearly 15 years old and views might since have changed.  Sites for installation of wind turbines are less likely in shallow valleys where wind is less consistent. Impact on the value of the countryside and on the local environment will need to be taken into consideration. We are likely still a long way from seeing the giant fans marching across our fields, but if you don’t have a view, now is the time to start deciding where you stand.

Our possible contribution to fight global warming

Our representatives on the Burgh and Tuttington Parish Council have already been working on the topic of wind farms and they will likely keep a close eye on how new policies for onshore wind could affect us. No doubt, they will continue to express the views of local residents about wind farms to our district and county Councillors, to local planners, and to our MP.

So far, our Parish Councillors have concluded that offshore wind farms are preferred because they can be larger and cost-effective and wind is more consistent than onshore. Make sure you tell the Parish Council what you think.

(Editor’s Note: The siting of wind turbines suggested in this article is purely speculative and based upon a map published by the Greater Norwich Development Partnership in 2009. It represents the editorial view of the Tuttington Hub website only.)