Mr Hopton, a barrister and journalist, said he had not been party to abuse, and had only heard "robust" questioning at meetings. But he said: "This is a great moment – it's a David and Goliath victory. The Church is an enormous institution and it's a very large landowner – we have to fight." The Diocese had previously said it was among the first wave of areas across Britain to be trialling the turbine approach in a Church of England bid to reduce its carbon footprint. Mr Hopton said: "This is a good day for Devon, but it's a great day for the rest of the country too. Hopefully we have pulled a wedge out from under the bottom of the door."
The Bishop of Exeter has launched a stinging rebuke against alleged “abusive and bullying” tactics used by turbine protesters, which has forced the diocese to withdraw plans in order to protect clergy.
The Right Reverend Michael Langrish claimed staff had been subjected to “outright verbal abuse” over plans to build two 25 metre-high turbines in each of three North Devon communities. The plans, which will now be dropped, were estimated to have generated a potential £50,000 per year.
The Diocese of Exeter was among the first in the country to trial the approach to improve its green credentials, and it is thought the U-turn could now halt a wave of applications across the country.
Yesterday, campaigners said they were “thrilled” at the “David and Goliath victory”, but were saddened that the debate had turned sour.
In a letter read out to congregations in Chittlehampton, Black Torrington and East Anstey at services yesterday, the Bishop apologised that communities were not consulted earlier in the process, but condemned what he claimed was “hostility and aggression” disproportionate to the scale of the plans.
He said the diocese remained “deeply committed” both to the protection of rural Devon and to reducing its carbon footprint, but claimed clergy and officers had been subjected to “hostility”, “outright verbal abuse”, and “abusive and bullying tactics”.
He said: “I and many of my colleagues have received very unpleasant letters and those who have attended public meetings in a genuine effort to explain the thinking behind our proposals have been shouted down and called liars.”
Yesterday, Peter Wood, chairman of East Anstey Parish Council, revealed that supporters of a campaign to repair the local church tower had threatened to withdraw funding because of the row.
He said: “There was wrongdoing on both sides. The diocese didn’t consult properly, but I’m saddened that we can’t debate this sensibly, with reason and respect.”
Mr Wood claimed that a public meeting had been “swamped” with “pushy” turbine protesters from outside the parish. “I think people were rather intimidated to speak in favour of it,” he said.
Richard Hopton, who lives 180 metres from the Chittlehampton turbine proposal, said: “I’m thrilled that the Church has seen the light and done the decent thing.
“It’s very sad that, according to the Bishop, this has descended into abuse, but I’m afraid it’s an emotive issue and people get wound up.”
Mr Hopton, a barrister and journalist, said he had not been party to abuse, and had only heard “robust” questioning at meetings. But he said: “This is a great moment – it’s a David and Goliath victory. The Church is an enormous institution and it’s a very large landowner – we have to fight.”
The Diocese had previously said it was among the first wave of areas across Britain to be trialling the turbine approach in a Church of England bid to reduce its carbon footprint.
Mr Hopton said: “This is a good day for Devon, but it’s a great day for the rest of the country too. Hopefully we have pulled a wedge out from under the bottom of the door.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding