One of the most vocal opponents of a proposed windfarm in south Norfolk has been banned from the opening ceremony for another set of turbines – because he is likely to cause embarrassment.
Today sees the official opening of the North Pickenham windfarm by former home secretary Charles Clarke and according to organisers will be “a celebration of windpower”.
But among the dignitaries and industry figures invited by Diss-based developers Enertrag UK there will be one conspicuous absence, that of Hempnall district councillor Michael Windridge.
Mr Windridge has long been a thorn in the side of Enertrag, which is engaged in a public- consultation exercise in Hempnall as it bids to win over the public for its seven 130m turbine proposal.
Last month the village-based businessman branded a public exhibition by the company a “complete sham” after Enertrag failed to advertise the event adequately, and led an ambush of senior executives at the meeting.
Mr Windridge said it was the next day that he received a phone call from company spokesman Terry Chapelhow, stating that it was no longer appropriate for him to go to the official opening of the North Pickenham site.
He said: “Enertrag’s decision to withdraw my invitation to this official opening, which I accepted in good faith, are the tactics of the commercial bully boy.
“I was told by Enertrag that my attendance at this occasion was not considered ‘appropriate as there would be landowners present whom they wouldn’t want to see embarrassed’. For goodness sake, what on earth is Enertrag afraid of?”
David Linley, manager of projects at Enertrag, yesterday told the EDP that an invitation to South Norfolk Council to send members of the planning team along had been forwarded to Mr Wind-ridge “unbeknown to us”.
“We’re happy to take him and anyone from Hempnall over to North Pickenham,” he added. “But this ceremony will be a celebration of wind power and we don’t want him there lobbying and upsetting people. We consider the day to be a celebration of what we’ve achieved in North Pickenham. Everyone who will be there will be pro-windpower and his attendance would not be appropriate.”
Enertrag built the eight-turbine windfarm, each 125m tall, in North Pickenham last October after receiving no opposition from local people.
But the situation is different in Hempnall, where people have set up the Stop Hempnall’s Onshore Wind Turbines group, and in Guestwick, where Enertrag’s proposals for six 125m turbines have also generated local complaints.
By Tom Smithard
9 February 2007
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