FENLAND: Rocks thrown and windows smashed at home of wind turbine businessman

PUBLISHED: 16:01 22 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:23 02 June 2010

BY Louise Hughes and John Elworthy ROCKS were thrown – and four windows smashed- at the Fenland home of Rod Herbert, one of the businessmen behind a consortium bidding for 19 wind turbines. The attack prompted cancellation of a public meeting to discuss t

BY Louise Hughes and John Elworthy

ROCKS were thrown - and four windows smashed- at the Fenland home of Rod Herbert, one of the businessmen behind a consortium bidding for 19 wind turbines.

The attack prompted cancellation of a public meeting to discuss the turbines after the consortium felt "we could not guarantee safety at it."

Bruce Pittingale, a consultant for Marshland Wind Farm Ltd, added: "We received information and decided we were not prepared to hold the meeting in Marshland on Friday."

The shock of the last minute cancellation started a storm of insults between protestors and developers.

Ian Robinson, also from MWF, said news of the attack came as he met with representatives from the German company involved with the consortium.

"I have to say I am embarrassed today to be British," he said. "My guest from Germany is bewildered, too."

But councillor David Markinson, who represents the Mershe Lande ward on King's Lynn Borough Council, said: "This is disgraceful and a public relations disaster.

"Furious villagers told me that they felt they had been snubbed and once more their views had been ignored. All of those people have been let down."

The final open day was to be held at Marshland St James Village Hall last Friday after the consortium had held two meetings earlier in the week, which they said had been attended by abusive protestors shouting insults to members of the public.

But Fenland Landscape Against Turbines (FLAT), the anti wind turbine group, strongly deny the accusations, claiming the consortium was 'running away' from its commitment.

A spokesman said: "This really is a serious snub for the village and while the developers claim that it was for 'health and safety' reasons, many people are of the opinion that what they are really frightened of is the actual result of their consultation process.

"Despite developers 'running away' from their consultation commitment, members of FLAT remained in the Marshland St James village hall car park to talk to the almost two hundred people who turned up but were denied their democratic right to engage in consultation with the developers."

After past public meetings, Mr Robinson said: "It has been disappointing for our consultation that some members of the public have not entered the exhibition due to the presence of FLAT members around the entrance.

"Some of the visitors have been verbally abused in the car park by the FLAT members for showing any level of interest or support for the proposals."

Last May, Mr Herbert's brother, father-of-three Richard Herbert, 47, who was also in the consortium, drowned in the Middle Level Drain. An inquest recorded a verdict of suicide after hearing he had become anxious and depressed as protests mounted.

THEIR stunning Fenland view is certain to change dramatically if plans to build the Marshland St James wind farm go through.

But two neighbours who live on the outskirts of Outwell are convinced photographs and diagrams used in promotional brochures underestimate the scale of the project.

"These wind turbines will be the biggest in the country," said Wynn Connell, a FLAT committee member.

"The brochure says they will measure 98 metres to the motor and a tip height of 139 metres.

"This means they will be more than twice the size of the electricity pylons. But the photographs in the Marshland Wind Farm booklet make the turbines look much smaller.

"Also, the low resolution OS maps of the farm are so small we can't accurately work out the situation of our nearest turbine."

Mr Connell and his neighbour, Pippa Le Roux, of Stow Road claim residents are being denied useful and detailed project information from consortium members.

They also pointed out that the site is important for birds and wildlife with migrating swans heading to Welney and bats nesting in a neighbouring barn.

"And, according to papers from West Norfolk Borough Council, this site is an 'Area of Important Landscape Quality'," he added.

"Research has also proved that wind farms aren't efficient, and a recent study showed that a large turbine saves less carbon dioxide than the amount produced by just one articulated truck.

"We moved here because we love the peace and quiet of the country. If this farm goes ahead, it will only be the beginning because the project will extend further. It will then become a living nightmare."

* FLAT will hold its own consultation event at 7pm in the Marshland St James Jubilee Hall on Tuesday.

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