Dirty tricks campaign against wind turbine consortium?
EXCLUSIVE By John Elworthy PROTESTORS were accused of renewed violence – including puncturing a tank on a farm and spraying lawns with weed killers- against remaining members of a £40 million wind turbine consortium near Wisbech. Consortium spokesman Ian
By John Elworthy
PROTESTORS were accused of renewed violence - including puncturing a tank on a farm and spraying lawns with weed killers- against remaining members of a £40 million wind turbine consortium near Wisbech.
Consortium spokesman Ian Robinson said there had been "fresh damage to clients' property" and the police had been called in to investigate.
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Mr Robinson said protestors had even managed to stop workmen getting onto a field near Marshland St James where a 279-foot tall anemometer erected to collect data for the turbines was vandalised three months ago.
"We simply can't get another anemometer put up," said Mr Robinson. "Our members have been told that if someone tries to erect the mast again, they will come and try and knock it down again. Even those taking the scrap metal from the anemometer away have been harried.
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"You only need to put someone out there with a plastic hat and there are protestors gathered mob handed making threats and intimidating people."
Mr Robinson said he accepted the re-assurance of anti wind farm protest group, FLAT (Fenland Landscape Against Turbines) that they had nothing to do with the latest threats.
"However the truth is that had there not been a group called FLAT egging people on, we would not have had illegal harrying of our clients, would not have had the death of Richard Herbert and would not have had deliberate targeting of our clients gardens with weed killer."
The body of Mr Herbert, a 47 year-old father of three, was found in a water-filled drain near his home at St John's Fen End in May. He was a member of the original 14 strong consortium of farmers looking to build the turbines: only half the original group now remains.
Lyndon Mason, chairman of FLAT, is furious that his members are being associated with the fresh attacks on consortium members' property.
Following a stormy parish council meeting on Friday, attended by 80 supporters of FLAT, he wrote to the chairman, Councillor Jack Bantoft, suggesting "if you have any evidence relating to illegal activities undertaken by FLAT or its members, then I suggest you take them to the police.
"If not, you would be well advised to keep your remarks to yourselves."
Mr Mason insisted their campaign was "peaceful" and for the moment they were keen to get the parish council to discuss it.
"It is the biggest issue to face our community for many years," said Mr Mason, who wants a public meeting in Marshland to debate the turbines.
Mr Robinson, meanwhile, is keen to get to the stage where an application might be submitted.
"For goodness sake we are only at a feasibility stage!" he said. "At this stage there has never been a proposal, never been a planning application."
He added: "The remaining consortium members are resolved to get this finished. Everything the opponents do hardens their resolve that much more.
"What they are trying to do is to frighten people by using false information whether it's about house prices, sickness, or noise and to hook this message into people."
Mr Robinson said it was crucial the consortium was able to replace the anemometer to provide at least another eight months worth of data in advance of a planning application.
Parish councillor Steve Woolner, who was elected in May, said he has complained over the parish council's refusal to discuss to the proposed wind farm on the agenda.
He said: "We are not on the parish council for personal reasons; we are there to represent the villagers. The villagers want to know more about this proposed farm, yet the council is refusing to discuss it."
The parish council had called an extraordinary meeting to elect a new chairman after David Gathercole stepped down.
Former borough councillor Jack Bantoft was elected chairman but was not available for comment.
A parish council spokesman said that the meeting was to elect a new chairman and that there was no discussion about the proposed wind farm as it was not on the agenda.