Councillor’s link to turbine deal
Credit: Diss Express | 3 March 2013 | www.dissexpress.co.uk ~~
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A landowner who stands to gain if controversial plans to build wind turbines in a south Norfolk village get the go-ahead turns out to be one of the village’s own parish councillors, the Express can reveal.
But farming director Liz Allen has always been open about her dealings and not taken part in debates at meetings of Hempnall Parish Council when the application by energy firm TCI Renewables is discussed.
The council strongly opposes the bid, which would use farmland owned by G.R. Allen Farms in Bungay Road, to build four 125-metre tall wind turbines.
Mrs Allen, who supports many village organisations, declined to discuss the financial arrangements with TCI and instead referred the Express to TCI project manager Andrew Mahon.
He said there were a number of ways to finance its use of the land but it was likely it would mean that the company would rent it from G.R. Allen for the 25 years of the project.
Despite her business dealings with TCI, Mrs Allen, who has lived in Hempnall for more than 30 years, said people’s attitude towards her had been good, although, she added: “Some people have not made it easy.”
Geoff Moulton, who chairs both the parish council and SHOWT, Stop Hempnall Onshore Wind Turbines, said the relationship had always been professional.
There had been unsuccessful overtures to G.R. Allen to try to get it to withdraw from the arrangement with TCI, which would scupper the turbine plan.
Only the week before last, said Mr Moulton, G.R. Allen had declined a request by SHOWT, to use the actual land to film a flying 20-foot long blimp. It would have flown over the land at the same height as the turbines to give people an idea of the scale of the proposal. Instead the blimp was photographed above areas of Hempnall.
TCI has become the potential developer since taking over the project from Enertrag, whose seven-turibne plan was fought off by the parish council and SHOWT. It was eventually rejected by South Norfolk Council as a well as by a planning inspector on the grounds of visual, landscape, wildlife and noise aspects.
At that time there were more than 600 letters objecting to the wind turbines and Mr Moulton said he believed there could be even more this time. Protest letters are arriving by the day and already South Norfolk Council has received more than 300.
However the new, smaller proposal is being supported by a newly-formed campaign group, Power For The Future, and has attracted a growing number of people to two public meetings.
However, one of the people it has named as being part of its steering group also has a financial stake and will benefit from the turbines.
Retired farmer and former long-serving parish councillor John Ellis, 75, own lands next to G.R.Allen, and admitted that he had already been paid a small retainer by TCI Renawables for the sale of a strip of land, which would lead to its outright sale.
He said the amount was less than £10,000: “I haven’t hindered their progress.”
The fact that he stood to make a financial gain if the wind turbines went ahead was news to April Groen, who leads the Power For The Future group. “I wasn’t aware,” she said.
TCI has pledged to pay £16,000 into a community fund each year to support ventures in Hempnall and surrounding villages.
The plans will be on display in the Mill Centre on Tuesday, March 12, 7.30pm to 9pm. On Monday, March 18, a parish poll will be conducted from 4pm to 9pm, also at the Mill Centre, when those on the electorial roll, can vote. Voting figures will be sent to South Norfolk Council.
On March 19, a parish meeting will be held when a representative from TCI Renewables and SHOWT will make presentations.
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