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Tragic family's wind power pledge  

A consortium of landowners last night pledged to press ahead with building a wind farm in the Fens despite the death of one of its members.

Father-of-three Richard Herbert, 47, was found dead in a fenland drain near his home in St John’s Fen End on Monday night.

Police believe there are no suspicious circumstances and an inquest has been adjourned to a date to be fixed.

Last night, his brother Rod, 63, said alternative energy schemes such as the 26 turbines originally planned for farmland near Marshland St James, were essential to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard future supplies.

“We are organising a future for his family, we are a close family,” he said.

“His widow Juliet is resolute – she is behind it.

“The actual project is still carrying on, albeit scaled-down, with some different members involved. We have got a lot of farmers who want to join.

“We are six feet below sea level here. Our family are the only people to ever farm this land; it was like Welney Wash when my family came here in the 1700s and it was drained, ironically, by windmills and pumps.”

A test mast put up to check wind speeds in the area was destroyed by vandals two weeks ago.

Mr Herbert said the structure would shortly be replaced, but the damaged mast had already revealed prevailing winds in the area were strong enough to power a wind farm.

Mr Herbert, who runs the family-owned firm Herbert Engineering, said the turbines would be sited almost two miles from the village of Marshland St James.

“We don’t want to annoy people, we want a wind farm that is non-confrontational. If you’re driving through Marshland St James, you won’t see them and from Emneth you’d be closer to the ones at Coldham,” he said.

“This is a rural community, a farming community, but unfortunately some people treat it as a property investment area and forsee that perhaps house prices might not go up as much as they thought they would.

“Farmers around here are taking the bull by the horns. They realise they have to change their way of life and have seized the opportunity to do so.”

Protesters from Fenland Landscapes Against Turbines (Flat) claim the turbines will devalue houses in the area. But Mr Herbert said the £2m turbines – which would be built at Middle Drove if the scheme was granted planning permission – were among the quietest on the market.

Flat could not be contacted yesterday.

EDP 24

25 May 2007


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