Campaigners against controversial plans to create a windfarm near St Andrews have defended their right to make public statements on the issue and have pledged to continue their opposition.
The show of defiance by members of STACK – Stop Turbines at Cameron/Kinaldy – follows correspondence from Mark Cummings, director of Edinburgh-based Invicta Public Affairs, asking for details of the group’s governance arrangements and membership.
In an email, he stated his firm was ‘increasingly concerned that your group continues to make anonymous comments in the local media without being willing to reveal who you are or what your agenda is.’
Invicta has been engaged by Welsh-based West Coast Energy, the company behind the Lingo application for five 334-feet (102m) turbines on land north of the B490 between Largoward and Dunino .
STACK was set up last year by concerned local residents and Dr David King, a former chairman of St Andrews Community Council, is its chair and primary spokesman.
Its website, saynotolingo.org.uk, states its aims are to provide support and advice to those concerned about the proposal to develop a windfarm on land on Lingo and South Kinaldy farms and to direct a constructive and informed campaign against it.
Responding to Mr Cummings’ email, STACK allege he is ‘‘well aware of the identity of its chairman and the nature of its agenda, as these have been publicly stated numerous times’’.
Dr King said: ”We will not be bullied by Invicta and West Coast Energy. There is no requirement to disclose the governance, management and membership of STACK.
“Everything we want to say about the Lingo application is posted on our website as it becomes available.
”Supporters of STACK objecting to the proposed windfarm are entitled to their privacy and to respect for their views, however much Mr Cummings may disagree with them.”
In relation to Mr Cummings’ request for a meeting with STACK, Dr King added: ”At this point we can see no purpose in a private face-to-face meeting with a lobbyist employed by the developer.
“However, as we have already stated in the Citizen, STACK will be happy to meet with West Coast Energy when it is prepared to comply with Fife Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance for Wind.
”The fact is there is considerable opposition, and not just locally, to building an industrial power plant encompassing five 334-foot turbines in the rural landscape on the East Neuk ridge. Many objections have already been lodged with Fife Council and there are clear planning policy grounds for rejecting the application.
“Instead of employing lobbyists to deal with opposition, West Coast Energy should go back to the drawing board and come up with a new proposal that complies with Fife Council’s planning policies and responds to the legitimate concerns of local people.“
In reply, Mr Cummings denied he was personally aware that Dr King was chairman of STACK and added: ”There is no statement on the website outlining which individuals are involved in the group, and all statements made to the media have been anonymous.
“STACK has not contacted Invicta Public Affairs or West Coast Energy at any point to make themselves known to us, instead we have read everything they have stated so far through their news releases in the media, all of which are under the anonymous guise of a STACK ‘spokesman.’
“This is further corroborated by the fact that we had to resort to contacting STACK through the anonymous email address available on the website.
“No-one appears to be actively taking responsibility for the group, and indeed its various comments in the media.
“We believe that all individuals and groups making public statements on behalf of the local community should do so in an open and transparent fashion.
“Invicta is engaged on this project to co-ordinate the communication with the local community and all the various groups that represent them, hence why we are contacting STACK.
“I do acknowledge and accept that STACK is a private interest group rather than a community organisation and, as such, does not have to disclose its office bearers or governance arrangements.
“Our request for the group to disclose this information was made solely so we can discuss on what basis STACK claims to be representing the community, and so we can provide it with the information it is looking for and engage productively with it.
“We remain open to meeting STACK and its members and we hope it will chose to engage both us and West Coast Energy productively and in an open fashion in future.”