A protest group has moved to publicly distance itself from a growing list of “horrifying” attacks against landowners supplying land for a wind farm.
In one of the most recent attacks the hedge of one landowner’s home was set alight – leading his panicked teenage son to race outside fearing his granddad’s next-door home was ablaze.
The proposed wind farm at Marshland St James has already been blamed for the death of landowner and father-of-three Richard Herbert, who an inquest ruled committed suicide in a state of fear and anxiety over the backlash to the scheme among fellow villagers.
Police have now issued a warning about the climate of rising tension and an assurance that anyone who steps outside of the law will be firmly dealt with.
Wind turbine opposition group Fenland Landscape Against Turbines (FLAT) has issued a statement reiterating that its campaign is a peaceful one and condemning illegal acts.
Chairman Lyndon Mason said wild accusations being thrown around had seen his group accused of being like Sinn Fein – the Irish republican party once widely regarded as the political arm of the terrorist group the IRA.
He said: “If this charge was not so serious, it would be laughable.”
The FLAT statement added: “We at FLAT would again like to make it clear that our campaign has been one of peaceful protest and has primarily been driven by the need to make the local community aware of the nature of this proposal and the potential consequences for individuals and the environment as a whole.
“We have ensured everything we have done has been lawful and we have been consistent in our condemnation of any criminal acts of vandalism or alleged harassment that may have occurred.”
In the most recent attack a hedge between the homes of wind farm land provider Andrew Askew and his elderly parents Roy and Mary Askew was set alight on March 31.
Roy Askew (74) said one of his grandsons came tearing out of his home when he saw the flames at around 9.30pm, in fear his bungalow was on fire.
Mr Askew said: “Everyone has got a right to their point of view but these are acts of arson and terrorism. It’s horrifying, not just for us but for other people.
“The whole thing is out of our hands now because the contracts are signed. Whatever happens we are wrapped up in it. There is no way back.”
The arson came three weeks after another landowner – Rod Herbert, the brother of tragic farmer Richard – had bricks thrown through his windows, his 4×4 set alight and a plane at at his airfield torched.
A Norfolk Police spokesman said: “The offences reported to police are being treated seriously and are under investigation. Feelings are running high over this issue and we continue to speak to all parties concerned and will monitor the situation throughout its process.
“People can be reassured that anyone who steps outside the law, regardless of their views on this issue, will be firmly dealt with.”
By Louise Brain
15 April 2008
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