A farmer whose body was found in a Fenland river this week had borne the brunt of a campaign by opponents of plans to build 26 wind turbines near Wisbech.
A close friend of Richard Herbert, 47, claimed he had been “threatened and harassed” by those opposed to the turbines and had received a steady stream of opponents at his front door.
The friend also claimed that a solicitor’s letter sent to Mr Herbert and others involved in the wind turbine proposals amounted to “a poison pen letter by proxy”.
Mr Herbert, he said, had reacted very badly to it, even though it cited false information and made spurious claims that were without justification.
Mr Herbert was one of a number of landowners hoping to build the turbines on farmland near Marshland St James, but two weeks ago a 300ft test mast was destroyed and four of the original consortium members withdrew.
His death came just three days after another bitter public meeting attended by more than 300 people opposed to the proposals.
The consortium’s plans have provoked a storm of controversy, with one opponent this week describing the battle to halt the turbines as “as a war and there will be casualties”.
Last night (Thurs), the Wisbech Standard obtained a copy of the letter sent to Mr Herbert, and others in the consortium, which threatened legal action if the turbines were built.
The letter, from Hawkins solicitors, said their clients were concerned that if homes were devalued, action could follow for loss and damage.
However Graham Cooper, from Hawkins, refused to reveal details of his clients but said he was acting on behalf of some Marshland residents.
He said his clients had no idea of any mental health issues concerning Mr Herbert and his clients “extend their sympathy” to his family.
This week, Mr Herbert’s family said they were devastated by his death “and we will all miss him dearly”.
They described him as “a good brother, a caring husband, an excellent father, a loving friend, and we all have many wonderful memories of his life”.
Mr Herbert, a father of three, had last been seen at his home in St John’s Fen End in the early hours of Monday. His body was later recovered from the nearby Middle Level Drain and police confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
Lyndon Mason, chairman of Fenland Landscape Against Turbines, said the group was shocked by the news and added: “Richard was a well-respected and valued family man who will be greatly missed by our small community.”
However, John Stoneman, who has spent the best past of eight years fighting the proliferation of wind turbines, put it more darkly.
“This is a war and there will be casualties,” he said. “I spoke to one woman in Marshland this week who was despondent about this death but I told her she had a job to do.
“We are all bloody sorry about what has happened, but what about the people driven to suicide because they live near wind turbines, the families who have split because of them, the kids who can’t go to school because they can’t sleep at night? These are also the casualties of war.”
Mr Stoneman said heavy industry had “tricked its way into the countryside” by presenting wind turbines on the back of the green issue.
And he claimed those involved in the consortium stood to make “huge great profits” from allowing their land to be used for turbines but they should take account of the effect they would have on people’s lives.
“I have seen people in tears, lives destroyed, people having problems selling their homes, and the stress of living near to turbines which helps break up families,” he said
“Without doubt, the wind industry is the most evil form of industry that exists at this particular time.”
An inquest will be held into Mr Herbert’s death and Mr Stoneman said the tragedy “will send a shockwave through the wind industry.
“The truth is people are awakening to what this growth in turbines means, and are starting to demand their rights to be heard.
“The wind industry spends millions trying to convince us how wonderful they are.
“When people start taking action it will do the wind power marketing people no good at all.”
Wisbech Standard 24
25 May 2007
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