I am writing to express my disappointment in the Church, and in Bishop Michael’s statement about the wind turbine withdrawal. I was in attendance at the Black Torrington meeting, where it was apparently “hostile”. Yes there was anger and hurt from the local community at how the Church (and by Church I am talking of Exeter diocese, not the local church) had done their best to keep the plans from us as a community. Our local priest was on holiday when it all came out, and was defended by many who were against the plans from the few who felt she was wrong to have gone on holiday, and it was wrong that she hadn’t told us. I am not aware she had any prior knowledge, nor that she was spoken to at all by the diocese. I have attended the local church on and off since I was nine when we moved to the area, and have a great deal of respect for our priest, and at no point did the majority of protesters feel she was to blame. In fact the few who did make comments in regards to our priest were often put straight by other protesters. The diocese showed no loyalty or protection towards their own staff, let alone the parishioners and local communities who were going to have to deal with the turbines on an everyday basis. I wrote several emails to various members of the diocese, none of which were acknowledged in anyway. I am not aware of anyone who got a response. I am not against renewable energy, and applaud the diocese for looking into ways to reduce their carbon footprint, however I have yet to see any evidence that they actually “do as they say on the tin”. My main issue was the way the diocese of Exeter tried to get the turbines into planning without local consultation, indeed we at Black Torrington only found out after someone contacted us from Chittlehampton. As a Christian, it has always been my belief that with honesty and living the way Christ did is how we should live our lives, and I struggled to see how the diocese could claim to still work to these value while their actions said otherwise.
At the meeting, the representatives the diocese and developers sent were at best ill-informed, and at worst evasive when faced with questions they did not want to answer. I cannot comment on other meetings, but the Black Torrington meeting was not hostile, merely a group of hurt and angry people who were being talked down at by the developer and questions met with feeble (if any) answers. There was no Clergy at our meeting representing the diocese. If Bishop Michael’s office had responded to emails, a lot of ill-feeling would not have been bred. I resent the way he has told the press that we were in the wrong. Those who were abusive and hostile may have been, but for the most part, I have not found that – rather I have found hurt and anger that was incubated by the way the Diocese dealt with an escalating situation by ignoring it, and its parishioners feelings and views.