Campaigners attack wind farm go-ahead
A DECISION to give the go-ahead to a wind farm in a Suffolk village has “betrayed” local residents, opponents to the project have claimed.The No Windfarm at Parham (NOWAP) campaign group has accused Suffolk Coastal district councillors of “making a mockery” of local democracy by approving the plans at Wednesday's crunch meeting.
By Sarah Chambers
A DECISION to give the go-ahead to a wind farm in a Suffolk village has “betrayed” local residents, opponents to the project have claimed.
The No Windfarm at Parham (NOWAP) campaign group has accused Suffolk Coastal district councillors of “making a mockery” of local democracy by approving the plans at Wednesday's crunch meeting.
The council has strongly denied the claims and Saxon Windpower also hit back at the group's criticisms, saying NOWAP had “sunk to the level of attacking unsalaried public servants in their desperation to continue their fight”.
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Saxon Windpower hopes to build six 100m high turbines at Parham Airfield, which will be producing electricity by the spring of 2007.
The approval comes with a string of stringent conditions, but objectors are distraught it was given the go-ahead after a hard-fought local campaign to fight the plans.
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Dr John Constable, chairman of NOWAP, said: “The officers and committee members have betrayed local people and made a mockery of local democracy, and consultation.
“In their presentations and in their debates it was clear that neither officers nor councillors had a clear understanding of any of these issues.
“The planning process at local level has been brought into grave disrepute and we are gravely saddened.”
But councillor Ivan Jowers, who chaired the development control meeting, strongly denied Dr Constable's claims, saying they showed “a serious lack of understanding of the planning system”.
“Mr Constable may not agree with the decision, but he is completely wrong to criticise the way that the decision was taken,” he said.
“I would remind everyone that planning applications cannot be judged on public opinion alone.
“The way we dealt with this planning application is I believe a shining example for others to follow.”
Richard Mardon, managing director of Your Energy, a partners in the Saxon Windpower scheme, said the work done by the council planning team in reviewing and presenting the application and the quality of the analysis and debate was “some of the best we have seen anywhere in the country”.
“It is a shame that NOWAP have now sunk to the level of attacking unsalaried public servants in their desperation to continue their fight,” he said.
Dr Constable's mother, Freda Constable, and her friend Heather Demmon, who were at the meeting, have written to council leader Ray Herring to complain about a remark made by councillor Cyril Fidler in response to another councillor's comments about finding a turbine distracting while at a meeting. They called for him to be removed from the development control committee.
“Cllr Fidler ridiculed this observation by recounting an off-colour 'joke' to the effect that when at school his class-room was opposite the girls' gymnasium, and that though this was very distracting, the boys didn't have to look,” they said.
But Mr Fidler said he had been making a point about not having to look at the turbines turning.
“I was merely making an observation. It was not a joke,” he said.
He added that he would be “quite prepared” to resign if Mr Herring asked him to.
Mr Herring said he would be discussing the remarks with Mr Fidler.
“This was a controversial planning application and feelings have been running very high, so Cllr Fidler's comments were probably not the best choice of words to use to make his point,” he said.
“However, I do not think this is necessarily a disciplinary matter, although I will find out the complete facts and their true context.”