A test mast on the site of a proposed wind farm in the Fens has been destroyed amid claims of threats and intimidation in a village at war over green energy.
The 85m steel structure close to Marshland St James, near Wisbech, collapsed into a wheat field after its guy ropes were cut on Tuesday night.
Police confirmed they were investigating the attack on the mast which was put up in November to find out whether prevailing winds in the area would be sufficient to generate electricity.
Anger erupted after the Marshland Wind Farm Consortium revealed plans to build 26 turbines on farmland off Middle Drove in a letter to villagers.
Just hours before the mast was brought down, the EDP revealed half of its 14 members had resigned for what were described as “personal reasons”.
Last night, a spokesman for the remaining seven members said: “We regret that the named members have decided to withdraw from the wind farm consortium.
“We also regret the systematic campaign of harassment which has probably been the root cause of their decision. Police have now been requested to investigate.
“Members of the consortium have had poison pen letters. There have also been threats of physical violence. The truth of the matter is, people have been intimidated out of the process.”
One letter passed to the EDP, which has been circulated anonymously around Marshland, said: “Farmers are going to ruin farmers and villagers’ lives.
“You are going to divide our community, many of us have been here for generations like yourselves, enjoying the peace and tranquillity of living in the Fens with its wonderful open views.
“We have all worked hard for what we have, large or small, living in harmony. All this could be totally ruined if this proposal goes ahead. Sleep well.”
David Markinson stood as an Indpendent anti-wind farm candidate in the Mershe Lande ward at last week’s local elections. He defeated West Norfolk’s Labour leader Jack Bantoft, who had held the seat for 18 years.
Mr Markinson said: “All I can say is I have this morning noticed the absence of the mast that was measuring wind speed in the area. It was put up last November to take measurements.
“It’s too early to say wheat’s happened but what I can say from first-hand observation is the mast and its equipment are now lying on the ground. I can’t comment other than that. It’s all news to me.”
Another leading protestor said the group set up to campaign against the wind farm scheme could not condone criminal damage.
David McGuffog, of Fenland Landscapes Against Turbines (FLAT) said: “We can’t condone anything like that. I’ve also heard on the grapevine people have had hate mail.
“We’re ordinary people, we know each other so of course we can’t condone anything like that, but I’ve had phone calls too – people ringing me up saying silly things.
“There are a lot of angry people in this village, they resent the fact a handful of people could spoil their country way of life.”
But the spokesman for the turbine consortium said: “We’re looking for a clear condemnation from them – not dancing around with the ducks and the drakes.
“The remaining landowners wish it to be known that their resolve is hardened by these incidents and are determined to make sure that a wind farm will be completed albeit a fraction of the size of that which could have been built.
“It should be remembered that Marshland is for the most part a very vulnerable part of East Anglia most of it being below or about sea level.
“Refusing to make a contribution to lowering carbon emissions and helping the climate change agenda is like turkeys voting for Christmas.
“Those activists who believe they have scored a victory may well have cause to think again if the battle against sea levels is lost.”
John Askew, who owns the land where the mast was sited, is a member of the consortium.
“It’s been cut down and instead of being vertical, it’s now horizontal,” he told the EDP. “They tell me that’s going to cost half a million but whether they mean the anemometer or the delays I don’t know. But it’s a write-off.
“It’s held up with steel guy ropes and they cut them first. The tension in the ropes could have cut your head off.”
Police said the attack was being treated as criminal damage. Anyone with information is asked to call Downham Market CID.
By Chris Bishop
10 May 2007
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