Went to a presentation of a proposal for a new wind farm near the rural village of Trefeglwys, in upland Montgomeryshire tonight. 150-200 people turned up at the Village Hall, almost all against the proposal. I had a particular interest, because the developer had 'blackballed' me as a suitable person to be Chair of the meeting. The Community Council of Trefeglwys had asked me to chair this public meeting, but the company refused to accept their wishes because of my position as President of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. Even though I had given an assurance that I would chair in a totally impartial way.
This bizarre 'blackballing' took an amusing turn this week. The company had decided that it wanted the local MP, Lembit Opik to chair the meeting. At the last minute, he pulled out because he wanted to appear on Any Questions. The Trefeglwys Council, or at least some of the councillors were not impressed - and went public. Front Page of the local daily newspaper, the Shropshire Star and a prominent report in the universally read, Montgomeryshire County Times. The MP went to a Council meeting last night to apologise. Councillors told me that they have never seen him looking so humble. He's promised to pay for a local referendum to assess public opinion. And a letter of abject apology was left on every seat in the hall. And I'm told he's promised to meet everyone present. Wow. He really must be worried. There's a simple rule. If you promise to attend a meeting, it is just not acceptable to do something else you judge more important instead, at least, not without causing offence.
Anyway, I asked a series of questions that demonstrated to the developers that I don't have horns growing out of my head. As it happens, a good friend of mine, Peter English chaired the meeting in splendid fashion. The planning application, which is for 11 turbines will be submitted in the next 6 weeks.