An energy company which complained local residents were spreading misleading information about their proposed windfarm have found the tables turned on them.
For it has been revealed the Advertising Standards Authority are now formally investigating Energy4All over claims made in literature sent to all local residents.
This is just the latest episode in what is becoming an increasingly energised war of words between people living in the Lanark, Braidwood, Carluke, Cleghorn and Cartland area and Energy4All.
The north of England-based company want to erect two giant wind turbines, higher than the Statue of Liberty, at Cartlandmuir.
The company have already submitted plans for the project to South Lanarkshire Council, and say that once planning permission has been granted the local community will be able to invest in their community-owned “social enterprise.”
Earlier this week, the windfarm company’s PR issued a statement saying Energy4All Scotland were advising local residents not to be influenced by inaccurate information being circulated by protestors trying to block the plans.
“We are being targeted by a campaign of dis-information,” said Paul Phare, Scottish development manager at Energy4All.
“We appreciate there are differing views about wind energy projects, but the protestors are trying to halt what could be a significant local asset to the wider community who may wish to invest in alternative energy and do something positive for climate change.”
He said an email is being distributed to local residents in an attempt to encourage them to write to planners and oppose the development.
“The email is unhelpful because it is more an attempt to spread misinformation than engage in proper debate,” said Mr Phare
“Of course, some people may have concerns around the planning application and if that’s the case let’s have an honest, transparent debate so that we can present the facts.”
The company object to claims by protestors that ‘There is no perceived benefit to the local community despite the company describing themselves as a community-based co-operative.’
“Should this project be granted consent, local people will be invited to become members of the Clyde Valley Energy Co-operative, which will own and operate this project and they will receive an attractive financial return on their investment. Any surpluses will be used for the benefit of the communities living close to the turbines.
Paul Phare added: “The people of Carluke and Lanark are being deliberately misinformed by the protestors and we hope that the environmentally-aware people within the area will see these statements for what they are and make up their own minds about whether the proposal has merit.”
He also objects to local claims which stated: ‘It has been reported in the press that several turbines have broken causing flying debris. The blades will also throw ice in the winter which has the potential to cause severe harm and injury to people and property.’
Mr Phare countered: “Again, fitting turbines with sensors and applying shutdown scenarios prevents ice throw.
“Turbine failures are very rare events; modern day operational analysis of performance – including any of the sensors installed – can predict and prevent catastrophic failure such as blade damage in most cases. Wind energy is one of the safest energy technologies. It is a matter of record that no member of the public has ever been injured during the normal operation of a wind turbine.”
Other inaccuracies in the protestors’ email relate to noise and shadow flicker (strobing), and these too had been answered, he claimed.
But Energy4All’s statement was quickly followed by confirmation that the Advertising Standards Authority is to formally investigate a complaint that they themselves had been guilty of issuing false and misleading information.
The complaint, made by Cartland resident Neil Robertson, was into literature called “Clyde Valley Energy Co-operative – A Response to Criticisms” posted to every house in Cartland and Kilncadzow.
“The literature, now referred to by locals as ‘The Dodgy Dossier’, misquoted the minimum distance required between housing and wind turbines for safety reasons. They claimed 500m was acceptable when in fact 600m is the figure given in a South Lanarkshire Council document entitled “Spatial Framework and Landscape Capacity for Windfarms”.
Mr Robertson added: “Curiously, Kilncadzow village is only around 500m from the proposed wind turbine site at Cartland Muir.
“This misleading advert continues to be displayed by Energy4All on their Facebook page for Clyde Valley Energy Co-operative. It is my view that Energy4All should withdraw the advert and issue a public apology to the residents of Clydesdale for issuing false and misleading information.
“I would also encourage them to withdraw their inappropriate planning application. Given that the Advertising Standards Authority are now pursuing my complaint against Energy4All for false and misleading information, the allegations being cast against the local community by Energy4All are rich indeed.”
When asked to comment this week on the probe, a press spokeswoman for the company said: “While the case is still being considered by the ASA, Energy4All don’t think it is right to comment at this time.”
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