Windfarm anger as ‘VM’-area taxpayers are left paying the cost. . .
Prowind withdrew its bid for consent to build giant turbines near Haunton an hour before the planning meeting that looked likely to reject the scheme.
It meant the Osnabruk-based firm escaped having an official refusal stamped on the project.
It also meant that up to an estimated £90,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on dealing with the application was totally wasted.
But Prowind’s withdrawal does not look like being the end of the matter.
Now the company seems set on making an attempt to gain consent for a revised scheme at Haunton.
Managing director Johannes Bussman appears to be offering a cut of the proceeds to people willing to give up their unspoiled countryside for cash. And he is using arguments about mad dictators and Oriental meltdowns to persuade them to take the money.
In a letter, he says that windfarms, like the one at Haunton, are his answer to the threats on energy supplies presented by wars and nuclear accidents.
He claims that it was mostly German money spent on buying oil from North Africa that led to Muammar Gaddafi becoming a strong dictator and starting a war that is now jeopardising international fuel markets.
He also warns that the whole of Europe is at risk from a nuclear catastrophe like Japan’s because aircraft might crash onto people’s reactors.
Mr. Bussman says he has now read the advice given by authority officials for rejecting his original Haunton scheme.
And he adds that, “…there are opportunities to address the concerns raised”.
The businessman is considering opening up ownership of a part of the scheme to local residents.
This, he said, would turn it into an, “exciting community project.”
He added that he would be, “contacting the community directly,” to discuss the options.
Anti-windfarm campaigner, and Haunton resident, Robert Leedham, felt people would be highly suspicious of the developer’s offer.
He said: “Prowind has already broken promises to provide an open and democratic debate over their windfarm plans.
‘They were well aware there were hundreds of us who were very worried about their original proposals.
“And yet when we asked them to come and see us they simply ignored our invitation.
“For months they even ignored communications from our MP.
“We have since been outraged by the contempt they have shown for the planning process.
“Prowind attached a £10,000-a-year sweetener to their original turbine scheme.
“We cannot see how another bribe is going to make a modified design of windfarm look any less out of place in our valley.
“We will be urging people to keep saying ‘no’ to Mr. Bussman and his inducements and to keep on protesting.”
Haunton farmer and district and parish councillor, Phillip Bennion, had been standing to make up to an estimated £80,000 a year by renting out land to Prowind for their development.
He has declined to say if Mr. Bussman’s new offer to the community would affect the benefits due to him through any future development on his land.
County councillor for the area, Matthew Ellis, led the fight to stop the Germans installing their 420ft-tall turbines on Mr. Bennion’s farm.
He said: “I find Prowind’s tactics highly unpalatable.
“It means many tens of thousands of pounds of council taxpayers’ money have been spent by the district council for no reason.”
He said he would be asking the local authority to claw back some of the cash from Prowind.
Although he admitted not knowing of a way in law that would enable the authority to do so.
But in any case, Lichfield District Council has no idea how much public money it has spent over the past 18 months dealing with the Germans’ abortive bid.
The authority told ‘VM’, following a Freedom of Information request, that it did not count the cost.
Prowind’s planning application fee was £9,750.
Estimates of the cost to taxpayers in dealing with the issue are thought to be as high as ten times the fee.