Campaigners have slammed a renewable energy company for their “cynical attempt” to generate local support for a wind farm.
Broadview Energy has already had its plan for a four-turbine wind farm on the Second World War airfield at Bicton rejected by a national planning inspector.
However, it has exercised its right to appeal after its revised application was again rejected by Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC).
And now campaigners say the firm has paid activists to drum up support on its behalf through a lobbying group called Yes2Wind – for a second time.
Yes2Wind was on Huntingdon High Street on December 6 and 7 encouraging people to sign a letter to Peter Kozak, the case officer at the planning inspectorate dealing with Broadview’s appeal, saying they support the wind farm at Bicton.
Amy Howard, of Stop Bicton Wind Farm, said: “Stop Bicton Wind Farm strongly objects to this tactic.
“The information provided by Broadview is sketchy at best and most of those who signed up last time they used Yes2Wind were very far from local.
“Huntingdon is, after all, over 10 miles from the site.
“This is a cynical attempt to make local support for the Broadview proposals seem far greater than it is.
“Of the 394 letters received by HDC commenting on the Broadview proposals, almost 98 per cent were against the development.”
Yes2Wind was originally started by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund.
In 2009 these charities gave the Yes2Wind name to Yes2Wind Ltd, a registered company which now charges a fee to lobby in favour of wind farms.
It was paid by Broadview to drum up support for its first application, which was eventually rejected.
Campaigners say the letter given to people to sign gives “general reasons” to support renewable energy as a justification for the development, whilst failing to flag up the prior approval of a large solar farm nearby.
They also said it was disingenuous to have people sign a letter that said, visibility is not an issue to me because of the benefits”, because people signing it did not have enough information to make that judgement.
Tom Cosgrove, who is managing the project for Broadview, has previously argued that local planning policy is guided by local opinion, so if Broadview works within the council’s guidance, its application should be accepted – despite the protests of those who live closest to the site.
He said: “It’s important to recognise that the community as a whole produced the planning documents, so which part of the community do you listen to?”
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