Shock as chairman defies his own parish council to speak in favour of controversial wind farm

ANTI-wind farm protesters were shocked as the chairman of a parish council which had opposed controversial plans to build turbines at Common Barn unexpectedly spoke in favour of them at a public meeting.

Southoe Parish Council had already made a written statement recommending refusal of the bid to build three 125m turbines on land north-west of Church Farm, Rectory Lane.

But chairman Alan Marnes, who had signed the statement, told a packed meeting of Huntingdonshire District Council’s Development Management Panel that he could not personally support the views of his village colleagues.

“I made it very clear at the planning meeting that I was speaking as an individual supporter of the application,” Mr Marnes told the Hunts Post after the meeting on Monday, December 17. “I believe in the power of debate and democratic society.

“I understand it is a very emotive subject and I feel genuinely sorry for those who think it’s going to blight their lives.

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“In the small scale of things though, the turbines will not cause any pollution. I really hope to relay that to the parish council and to the village as well.

“I fully understand I’m going to get lambasted and I may well get deposed as chairman at the next round of parish council elections in May.

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“However our village is actually dying because it has got nothing here. We are slowly dying on our feet and we have got to stand up and bring this village back to life. This wind farm can be an opportunity rather than detrimental.

“I know I’m outnumbered but I can fight my own corner.”

Mr Marnes said the main reason he supported the application was because: “We all want more electrical power.

“I for one would rather see thousands of new wind farms anywhere in the UK than one nuclear power station anywhere in the world.”

He believes that wind power will eventually be superseded and that the turbines would be taken down some years later, leaving no environmental legacy.

“I am steadfast in my views that we need renewable energy and this is the best we have got at the moment. We should all do our bit to try and help.”

Sandro Proietti, from the Stop Common Barn Wind Farm Action Group, said he was “astounded” by Mr Marnes’ actions.

“Thankfully the district councillors were not swayed by his speech and voted unanimously against the application,” he said.

“It seems to me a total misuse of his position and this should not go unnoticed.”

He added that he believed Mr Marnes’ speech “gave the impression that he was talking on behalf of our parish and that his opinion was reflective of the parish”.

“However, there had already been a speech by one of our parish councillors passionately imploring the council to reject the application given the devastating impact this wind farm will have on us all.”

The application will be decided by a Government planning inspector next year after the applicant, TCI Renewables, appealed against HDC’s non-determination of the bid.

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