The Diocese of Exeter has announced it will be withdrawing its plans to erect six wind turbines at three different locations in North Devon.
The decision comes less than a month after the applications were submitted to both North Devon Council and Torridge District Council for two turbines to be erected at East Anstey, Chittlehampton and Black Torrington.
Since the diocese’s plans came to light at the end of April hundreds of people have objected and highlighted the lack of consultation given on the matter.
Despite this representatives of the diocese have defended the decision at public meetings in North Devon claiming the turbines would help the diocese reduce its carbon footprint by 2020 and then further by 2050.
But today the Bishop of Exeter the Right Reverend Michael Langrish has apologised to the three parishes where the turbines could have been erected although he has condemned the way some protesters have gone about making their views known.
In a pastoral letter to the three parishes the bishop said the decision to withdraw the three applications has been taken out of sensitivity to the position of the local churches, clergy, and staff in the diocese who have been subjected to hostility and abuse from some protestors.
He said: “We have listened to concerns where they were reasonably expressed, reflected and prayed over them, and clearly see that given the hostility, now is not the time to move ahead with our plans.
“But the diocese as a whole remains as committed as ever to reducing our carbon footprint – a commitment debated and voted on in diocesan synod, attended by representatives from parishes right across the diocese.
“I must add this morning that I have been grieved by the way some of those most opposed to our proposals have resorted to abusive and bullying tactics.
“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.
“It grieves me too, that in many ways, the scale of aggression and hostility generated from a small number of people was so far out of step with the small scale of what we proposed I am sure you will join with me in condemning such behaviour and working to defuse such aggression.”
It is unknown at this stage if the diocese still to wish to erect wind turbines or will consider other forms of green energy to reduce their carbon footprint.
For further information visit the diocese’s website at www.exeter.anglican.org
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