A COUNCIL admitted tonight it should have consulted the public over altered proposals to build Suffolk's first onshore wind farm.
Residents living in Parham, near Framlingham, launched legal proceedings last month against Suffolk Coastal District Council over its decision to approve the wind farm, set to be built near their homes.
They claimed the council had not consulted the public over changes to the turbines, which would have seen smaller blades used than those originally agreed, and lodged legal documents with the High Court in London.
And last night the council agreed with them, saying it had broken a written promise to consult local people over the issue.
“We do now appreciate that it is seen as breaking a previous written promise to consult about any changes to the proposed type of wind turbine for the wind farm,” said Ivan Jowers, chairman of the development control committee.
“We had taken the view that on strict planning terms, the revised plans were not really a change from the previous application, and in many ways were in fact an improvement, with less noise and other environmental benefits.
“However, we do now realise that because of our written promise we should have given the community an opportunity for their chance to comment, and to avoid lengthy and probably costly legal arguments it has been agreed that we should find out what the public think,”
The latest proposed turbine system would use turbines that are just under 100m high to the tip but with shorter 26.5m long blades on a 73.25m high tower.
The wind farm developer will consider whether to pursue this turbine system further and if it does it will submit full details to the council.
A consultation period would then begin with the public.
Reacting to the news, Dr John Constable, chairman of No Windfarm at Parham (NOWAP), said: “The council's surrender to our legal challenge shows conclusively that the SCDC failed to consult appropriately with local people.
“The council has, from the very first, handled this planning application in an unsatisfactory way, and it is a scandal that local people have had to result to law to get justice. There are institutional problems in SCDC planning and we need to see changes.”