Bosses at a wind energy company planning two giant turbines in mid-Norfolk insist they have nothing to hide and are happy to answer any questions from the councillors who criticised them.
But the war of words between Ecotricity and some Breckland Council members may be further inflamed after the power firm described its critics as “an angry mob rather than a professional planning meeting serving the public interest”.
As reported in the Times, Ecotricity received consent to keep a 50m test mast on land just north of Shipdham, where it is preparing to put up two permanent 100-metre turbines.
Ecotricity says the test mast is needed to reassure financial backers.
But the go-ahead was only given after the firm was described during the planning meeting as a “a bully” and accused of “riding roughshod over the planning system” and “conning members”.
Despite being invited to the meeting, no one from Ecotricity attended, and in a statement company managing director Dale Vince said he was shocked to read of the criticism.
“Claims made by several members were unprofessional and unfounded,” said Mr Vince, who added that the company had not attended as no grounds of refusal were offered by officers for the mast. “We would not expect planning committee members to behave in such a manner. We may, sadly, become accustomed to seeing frustrated wannabes mouthing off on Channel 4’s Big Brother, but that kind of behaviour does not have a place in council business.”
In his statement, Mr Vince said Ecotricity had already apologised for putting up the mast without permission.
He added: “The accusation that we were avoiding ‘searching questions’ by not attending the meeting is as unworthy as all the other allegations made that day. If councillors have any questions for us, they have our details and can contact us in any of the normal ways. We have nothing to hide and are more than happy to answer their queries.
The statement added: “We would be happy to do this in public. So we ask those councilors to please provide those questions so that we may have the opportunity to defend ourselves.”
Ecotricity argues that Norfolk will be in the “front line” when it comes to experiencing the impact of climate change and the single biggest thing people can all do is change where their electricity comes from.
Mr Vince said: “Breckland Council should show leadership on this issue, and it would not be an unpopular initiative. After all. the council’s own survey of the entire district showed that 90pc of residents support the idea of wind power in Breckland.”
07 February 2007
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