New action group to fight amendments to Heckington Fen wind farm scheme

An artist's impression of how the wind farm may look at Heckington Fen. EMN-160103-132754001
An artist's impression of how the wind farm may look at Heckington Fen. EMN-160103-132754001

Two public meetings are to be held this week to gather support for the launch of a new action group fighting the building of a 22 turbine wind farm at Heckington Fen.

‘Heck Off’ as it is being called, will hold the first meeting tonight (Tuesday) in the Hume Arms at South Kyme from 7pm to explain to any interested residents the latest position in which wind farm developers Ecotricity are proposing to amend their current planing permission granted by the Government for a wind energy park on land at Heckington Fen to the east of Sidebar Lane.

The company has requested permission to increase the length of the blades of the turbines from 90m to 103m, although not increasing the 125m height of each turbine. the company is also pressing for a relaxation of the planning conditions to be allowed to go ahead with ground works while a solution is found for the potential interference in RAF radar.

Residents and local parish councils are expected to attend tonight’s event. A second public meeting to explain the latest findings of the action group will be at Hubberts Bridge Community Centre on Thursday, also at 7pm.

Chairman of the group, Melvin Grosvenor, has had successes in the past in fighting wind farm applications in East Lindsey and has advised other opposition groups.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has been holding a consultation process for the latest amendments, which officially ended on February 10, but Mr Grosvenor says this is not the end after being involved in an independent working group looking at wind farms.

He said the latest amendments to the blade lengths of the turbines is ‘significant’. The details have been analysed by the group’s wind turbine expert, Dr John Yelland, who believes teh noise impact assessment may now be flawed, as the ‘woof’ noise from the larger blades turning in teh wind will have a greater impact on surrounding residents, causing sleepless nights and other disturbance.

Mr Grosvenor said some neighbours had not even been aware of the new consultation and have not been made fully aware, causing concern.

He said: “We have had two meetings and now we are opening up to public meetings. We have also found out that although the site borders the Boston Borough Council boundary, that council may not have been informed about the consultation, as it has not got through to people in the Amber Hill and Holland Fen area on the north-eastern edge of the wind farm site.

“Some people are going to be badly affected because of the prevailing wind and they did not have a clue about it. This is going to be a huge issue. It is about time the local communities had a say in this.”

Mr Grosvenor added that if the original planning permission turns out to be flawed there could be serious consequences and they are prepared to challenge it to seek further protection for the community, potentially rendering the wind farm unviable to continue.

As for pushing ahead with groundworks, Mr Grosvenor said the land could be blighted for no reason as they have spent 15 years and still not found a way to mitigate the radar interference.

An Ecotricity spokesperson said: “Independent consultants (Hoare Lea) have carried out a comprehensive revised noise assessment that showed that no significant effects would occur in relation to noise, as the original assessment also demonstrated. The assessment was reviewed by the Environmental Health Officer at North Kesteven District Council and they raised no objection, stating that ‘the methodologies used appear consistent with guidance’.

“In fact, no statutory consultees have raised any objection to the variation of consent application.

“There is already a condition on the current consent relating to restoring the site. However, to provide added reassurance, we would be happy for the Secretary of State to consider revising this condition, to state that the components of the development should be removed in the event that the details of the radar mitigation scheme cannot be agreed.

“Finally it should be pointed out that if the variation of consent application is refused, Ecotricity will still look to develop the 22 wind turbine scheme under the current approval. However if the variation of consent application is approved the number of windmills could actually be reduced to 18, thereby reducing the scale of the development without increasing the height of the turbines. It would also increase the renewable energy output from the site as turbines have continued to become more and more efficient in the last couple of years.”