As someone who sat through every minute of the Public Inquiry into the threatened wind farm on Hemswell Cliff, I was appalled to read in the Market Rasen Mail (Feb 11) that the developers and their supporters still continue to spread their toxic disinformation.
However, we should not really be surprised. Their campaign of deceit raged continually throughout the Hearing. A Council officer, for example, was repeatedly accused of ‘seducing’ West Lindsey District Council with a vital ‘unsubstantiated and mistaken assertion’ – only to have the suggestion of ‘alarmist conjecture’ destroyed by the simple means of visiting the site in question.
A highly-qualified ‘expert witness’ was parachuted in at the last moment to take on the opposition’s (VOCAT) archaeological case – only to be shredded by VOCAT’s barrister.
The developer’s ‘expert witnesses’ on the subjects of geology, and hydrology were all withdrawn just prior to the Hearing, presumably on the grounds that the case against the development was unanswerable. This alone suggested that the risk of a potential disaster in the area as a result of the proposed wind farm was far too high for public debate.
The opposition’s case concerning radar and aviation was ignored without challenge. Consequently, the unquestioned threats to air safety and national security were all disregarded in the hope that they might not be noticed.
Now – post-Hearing – we learn that the deceptions continue to be spread. Along with the usual nonsense about ‘good wind speeds’ and ‘energy security’, the developers and their supporters are claiming that ‘support locally has been very encouraging’. Altogether they have claim to have collected 1,786 letters in favour of the proposal – mainly raised by asking passers-by in communities un-related to, and far from, the proposed site, the catch-all question - ‘Do you support renewable energy?’
However, when examined in detail by VOCAT, the number of letters of support amounted to 1,814 (yes, more than the supporters have claimed). Of that number, some of the letters came from as far afield as Wales, Scotland, Germany, Greece, Australia, and Indonesia. Furthermore, many of the support letters were a panic response to those from the opposition and arrived well after the closure date for submission. Of all the letters of support, those that came from the area affected by the proposed wind farm numbered just 27 (twenty-seven). Only five of the total number of support letters actually mentioned ‘Hemswell Cliff’.
The letters of opposition to the proposal – including those from local businesses - numbered over 3,500 (accuracy is impossible as many letters of opposition were sent to WLDC and forwarded directly to the Planning Inspectorate). All were submitted before the closure date, and 99% came from the local area.
At the Public Inquiry, just five people spoke in favour of the wind farm. Only one was a local resident – and he was the owner of the land on which the wind farm was proposed.
E C Coleman
Chairman of VOCAT