PRESS RELEASE 26th MAY 2007
The recent tragic death of Richard Herbert has led to accusations and counter accusations on both sides of the “Marshland Wind Factory” debate. This has led to some unfortunate and insensitive remarks appearing in the press which have not originated from, or been endorsed by FLAT. Out of respect for Richard’s family we had not intended to issue another press release at this time. However in the light of vitriolic reports from close members of the family and the consultants representing the consortium (which have recently appeared in both local and national press), we have no choice but to respond and set the record straight.
Recent press reports have given the impression that the consortium has suffered a prolonged and systematic campaign of abuse and harassment, including death threats, poison pen letters, threats of violence etc. While we do know that feelings are running very high in the area, there does seem to be very little evidence to support these claims. During our recent discussions with the police they have confirmed that they have not been asked to investigate any acts of harassment and have not seen any of the alleged death threats etc. One of these supposed “poison pen” letters was recently published in the papers but the recipients had apparently not been sufficiently alarmed by its contents to pass it onto the police! It is also interesting to note that none of the seven members of the consortium who recently pulled out for “personal” reasons have been prepared to support these allegations of harassment. Indeed one landowner who is a member of the Parish Council submitted a letter (she was on holiday) to the last parish meeting, which clearly stated that she had withdrawn “for personal reasons not harassment as quoted in the press”. I would assume that this letter is now part of the parish records and could be obtained if required! At our last public meeting a gentleman stated in front of 300 witnesses that he had spoken to another of the consortium members and that they had withdrawn “because they no longer trusted the consultants who represented the consortium”! Draw your own conclusions from this but it does not seem to paint the picture that Mr Pittingale and Mr Robinson would like you to believe!
We at FLAT would again like to make it clear that our campaign has been one of peaceful protest and has primarily been driven by the need to make the local community aware of the nature of the proposal and the potential consequences for individuals and the environment as a whole. We have ensured that everything we have done has been lawful and we have been consistent in our condemnation of any criminal acts of vandalism or “alleged harassment” that may have occurred. This was made clear at both of our recent public meetings, the first of which was described as a “very angry disorganised rabble” by Mr Robinson. I am sure that most of the 350 people who attended this meeting will be feeling very insulted by this statement. Insulted because during all of the well received and very professional presentations, the audience behaved impeccably. It is interesting to note that the meeting only became “rather heated” after the consultants had introduced themselves as “the enemy” and told the audience that “they had never lost the fight with any wind farm that they had been involved with and did not intent to break their record with this one”! From then onwards they continued to both antagonise and alienate the audience and at one point even told one questioner to “shut up”. I think that most people who attended the meeting would not recognise the consultant’s version of events.
At our second meeting we at FLAT were so concerned about the risk of possible civil disorder occurring if the consultants attended that we wrote to them saying that if they attended they would have to address all questions through the chair and would not be given the opportunity to address the audience directly, as they had at the previous meeting. We also discussed this matter with the local police sergeant and asked him if a member of his force would be able to attend. We were told that he had spoken to the consultants two days earlier and they had said that they would not be attending. The sergeant therefore thought that it was not necessary for an officer to attend and they would simply do a “drive past” Compare this with the consistent statements from the consortium that they had been told to keep away by the police because their safety could not be guaranteed. I trust that it would not be difficult for members of the press to contact the police and see whose version of events is true!! As a result of the consultants voluntarily deciding not to attend, our second meeting was considerably “less heated”.
The impression has also been given that campaign is driven by few “incoming nimbys” bothered about house prices. While this is a concern for many people (who are certainly not all incomers to the area), FLAT as an organisation and Marshland as a community are opposed to this development on a number of other grounds especially unresolved health issues, noise pollution, the impact on bird + bat populations and not least the dramatic negative visual impact which these huge turbines (taller than the London Eye) will have on the beautiful fenland landscape. The more people we speak to and the more research we do, the more convinced we become that the desecration of this unique countryside cannot be justified by the puny gains in green energy generation produced by such turbines.
Recent statements have also been made declaring that the turbines will be two and a half miles away. Unless the map that we have seen (dated 27th April) is incorrect (and if so, is there another one that people should be shown?) this is clearly not the case. Indeed some turbines will be sited within five hundred metres of residential properties! It has also been suggested that people driving through the village will not even see them. At a height of 139 metres, and with those at Stags Holt being clearly visible 7 miles away from our village this is yet another preposterous statement by the consortium. We at FLAT have been accused by one of the consultants (Bruce Pittingale) of using hysteria rather than facts to frighten people. Our recent meeting was entirely based on facts and the facts seemed to be frightening enough to our audience without having to resort to hysteria!! We have been able to obtain a “scoping document” in relation to this proposal and we strongly advise everyone to read it – it will be on our website (www.flat-group .co.uk) as soon as is practically possible. This document is dated August 2006 which we find amazing considering the consortium consultants told us at our last public meeting (in April 2007) that it had not even been started! The aforementioned map dated the 27th of April 2007 clearly shows 26 proposed turbines despite “categorical” assurances from the consortium consultants in front of 350 witnesses at our first public meeting on the 19th of April that the proposal was for less that 26 turbines. Please read the scoping document – it will give you the details that the consortium have not been prepared to reveal to you. We think it will also clearly demonstrate that it is the consortium consultants and not FLAT that have been providing misinformation!!
We have also been accused of being Luddites and ignoring the pressing need to reduce carbon emissions. People must do their own research to judge independently but it is clear that there is now a growing body of experts who believe that the huge subsidies given to on shore wind factories are actually hampering research into alternative more efficient forms of renewable energy generation. Surely now is the time for a measured and forward thinking approach to the generation of essential green energy and not a rush into inefficient resource gobbling eye-sores favoured because the technology is available now (however poorly researched) to meet Government targets. Hindsight will prove in-shore turbines to have been merely expensive white elephants wasting time and resources while climate change advances relentlessly.
The FLAT Committee
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