The tiny rural community of Marshland St James has become a centre for bitter suspicion, accusations, tragedy and now dangerous criminal attacks – all apparently because of a proposal to install 19 wind turbines there.
Wind farm applications have become notorious for causing controversy across the country, dividing public opinion, but has that ever been so extreme as in this corner of Fenland?
One camp puts forward accusations that the turbines are a blot on the landscape, create a noise that can lead to health problems and depress house prices; the other claims there is no evidence of any of this and wind farms are a necessary way to create green electricity to protect the world for future generations.
Protest group Fenland Landscape Against Turbines, chaired by villager, horticultural consultant Lyndon Mason, has become a prolific force.
In one of its recent additions to its professional and up-to-the-minute website FLAT has posted a height comparison picture of a turbine alongside Lynn’s Campbell’s tower.
Mr Mason (43) has been in the village 12 years and lives with his wife, 18-year-old son and six-year-old daughter in Church Bank.
He has had to make a public statement to distance FLAT from attacks on landowners involved in the scheme – actions he has strongly condemned.
Mr Mason said: “It’s awful. All the way along all we have tried to do is get things out in the open and encourage debate. We can only hope things will calm down once people finally feel they have had their chance to have their say.”
WIND FARM BAN AT PUB
Andy Duncan Gibson, landlord of village pub the Marshland Arms, one of only a handful of village amenities, said he has now banned talk of the wind farm in his pub.
He said: “Everyone is pig sick of it.”
Parish councillor and resident of 24 years Jack Bantoft (57), of Black Drove, Marshland Fen, said people on both sides of the debate have become nervy following the attacks.
He said: “It has created an atmosphere that we can do without. It’s a terribly sad state of affairs. It leaves a situation where you want to withdraw into your own little place and not really want to engage with other activity in the village.”
The company created to push the scheme forward, Marshland Wind Farms – backed by German energy company NOTUS, has hosted exhibitions of its proposals in Outwell and Emneth, parishes also impacted by the plans.
One in Marshland St James was controversially cancelled when the developers said they feared for their safety if it went ahead.
They have now worked with parish councils to set dates for consultation meetings in Marshland St James and Tilney St Lawrence.
Spokesman Bruce Pittingale said: “The company will be employing security guards and requesting a police presence to ensure that both exhibitions are held in safety.”
The meetings will be at the Jubilee Hall, Marshland St James, from 4pm to 9pm, on Thursday, May 1, and Tilney St Lawrence village hall, 5pm to 9pm, on Friday, May 2.
The current proposal would see 19, 141-metre turbines installed.
By Louise Brain
15 April 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding