A little while back, one of the purple-faced ones let slip a hint regarding VVASP's tactics. When it was pointed out on the Wychavon planning website that a windfarm development comparable with the proposed Lenchwick Windfarm had received approval, regardless of a half-witted campaign mounted by local nimbies, one of our own nookies snapped back. The other windfarm had the approval of more locals than antis. Ergo, it was allowed to go ahead.
The flaw in the thinking here is obvious. VVASP like to foster the idea that a windfarm can get planning approval only if slightly more local people approve than disapprove of the idea.
The same thinking doesn't seem to have applied to major infrastructure projects in the past. There is no indication that motorways, nuclear power plants, electricity pylons, railways or canals were subject to this 'show-of-hands' democracy. Just think about it: how many progressive developments would realistically have been given the go ahead if approval was dependent on the reactions of local people - especially where craven and dishonest protest groups were allowed to sway opinion?
As we have seen, in France a more sensible attitude prevails. Windfarms are built regardless of what a handful of local weirdos might say. And the locals hold a party when a windfarm goes operational.
This is one of the reasons why the UK's competitors are streaking ahead with renewables while Britain flounders - because of this insane notion that a windfarm should only be allowed if a local campaign in favour is able to overcome the looney lies and fear-mongering of the nimby nutters. The implication being that any major infrastructure project vital to the national interest must be fought over by local groups, some of whom deploy lies and some which publicise the truth. If the liars prevail, no windfarm. If the forward-thinking, conscientious types succeed, the windfarm happens.
Is that democracy?
Of course, VVASP and democracy have something less than a nodding acquaintance with each other. VVASP tried to make out that 82% of Church Lench residents were opposed to the windfarm. Not true. Even after four months of lunatic propaganda and claims which were subsequently proven to be lies, VVASP only managed to get 57% of Lenchians to express opposition.
Now, they're trying to claim that it is a fundamental basis of western democracy that only those who vote against an idea should be heard and counted. Quite apart from the fact that this is to mistake a referendum for a general election, it is in reality a recipe for fascism. The majority of local residents in the three parishes did NOT express opposition to Lenchwick Windfarm, despite the fact that VVASP had been stuffing outrageous, irresponsible and misleading propaganda through their letterboxes.
Even crazier, the initial response of VVASP to the local surveys was to attack the parish councils concerned for not giving them more time to spread their poisonous myths. In Church Lench, the survey was initiated by the original parish council, whose members were eager to play by the rules - which is why they were forced to resign by VVASP's thugs.
So VVASP wasn't happy with the results of the surveys (arguing that their mad lies had not had time to take effect). Their only option was to misrepresent the outcomes of those surveys and claim that the statistics could be ignored. Only those who supported VVASP mattered. Every local resident who couldn't be bothered to respond to their survey should be discounted. Hence the huge disparity between VVASP's claims of an 'overwhelming majority' and the reality. The people of the area had spoken - including those whose indifference was itself a statement.
Which brings us to the agitators of the bogus 'Windfarm Working Party'. This nefarious group was established by Church Lench Parish Council at a time when Church Lench Parish Council didn't actually exist. Its stated aims were to 'gather and share information' both for and against windfarms. It commandeered local tax-payers' money and instantly reneged on its own terms and conditions.
For a year and a half, the Windfarm Working Party has refused to release any information relating to its activities. Anything that the WWP discovered in support of wind power has completely vanished. Hardly surprising, really. The Working Party made no attempt whatsoever to find out anything in support of windfarms. Their knowledge of windfarms is nil.
The parish councils involved in the Windfarm Working Party scam announced that their representatives on the Working Party would feed information back to the councils but would not be involved in the final decisions of the parish councils when it came to responding to the Lenchwick Windfarm planning application.
Interestingly, not one of the clerks of the local parish councils has been prepared to answer questions about the discussions concerning the windfarm planning application. Which only supports the suspicion that, yet again, the Windfarm Working Party ignored its own rules and made sure that each of the councils concerned submitted a naff 'critique and response'. In other words, the WWP reps - who were not meant to dictate the response of the parish councils - went ahead anyway, overriding the democratic process and ensuring that all six parish councils represented the blinkered views of the VVASP members of Church Lench Parish Council.
Now, a reminder. When the public was consulted, only 44% of residents of three parishes expressed opposition to the windfarm (after being subjected to VVASP's mindless propaganda for four months). So the Windfarm Working Party insisted that all parish councils ignore the local surveys and follow the wayward lead of a discredited protest group and their puppets in Church Lench.
And what has Wychavon District Council been doing during all this? Oddly, even though the Environmental Services Department at Wychavon are willing to admit that there was at least one meeting between council officers and members of the Windfarm Working Party, no one seems all that sure about when the meeting took place and who was present. It happened earlier this year, they think, but it would seem that there is no record regarding when it happened and who was there.
One member of the Working Party subsequently sent various emails to the council officers detailing planning decisions which went against this or that windfarm development. One of these emails drew attention to the possibility that the government's guidelines on windfarms and noise could be overruled.
The government is aware that their ETSU-R-97 guidelines are not being properly applied nationwide and have commissioned a study to find out how the guidelines can be imposed equally and fairly in all cases. But one of the Working Party nimbies was eager to impress upon the Environmental Protection Manager at Wychavon the possibility that the government's guidelines could be ignored.
Hardly the sort of behaviour we might expect from an 'information gathering and sharing' working party. Rather, just the sort of thing we can expect from a deranged fanatic whose information comes exclusively from a discredited protest group.
The problem of course is that while Wychavon continues to be vague and surprisingly coy when it comes to admitting the extent of the pressure being exerted on council officers by the red-faced nimbies, it remains difficult to determine when the one-way flow of misleading propaganda began. The regular badgering of council members and officers by VVASP had begun by March 2009. By December 2009, the Environmental Services Department at Wychavon were 'on message', wrongly believing that the acoustic industry was unhappy with the government's established guidelines and happily hiring a partisan noise consultant. And now we find that, months later, the same department was still receiving bogus information from the local lunatic fringe, leading to the impression that the government guidelines were optional and could be safely 'overruled'.
VVASP had failed to sway the majority of local people, so they set their sights on Wychavon, spreading their misinformation to the council officers who were able to spend public money on dodgy consultants. If you will, just as local public opinion could be overruled and ignored by the nimby nutters, so could the national guidelines on windfarms and noise. In the weird and whacky world of VVASP, everything they're not happy with can be ignored or misrepresented, including the obligations of the local councils. And anyone in the area who expressed support for the Lenchwick Windfarm proposals could be silenced.
Those who exercised their democratic right to support the planning application could expect to be contacted by nimbies who attacked them for their clear-sighted and public-spirited views. Even the Head of Planning at Wychavon has expressed regret at discovering that those who chose to exercise their democratic rights have been harassed by the fascist mob. VVASP had hoped to get at least 1,000 letters of objection. They failed, managing (by their own account) about 740 objections, a substantial number of which are fake, phoney or just plain silly. Individuals who hardly even read paperbacks claim to have read all the planning documentation. People who haven't sat on a horse in years insist that their horse-riding activities will be curtailed by the windfarm (why?). And people who've never been anywhere near the Lenches all claim to have made the same friends in the area and to have watched the same brown hares through the same window of the Lenches Club.
Plumbing the depths of VVASP's dishonesty is impossible. They lied to the neighbourhood, shrieked when the community revealed its lack of interest in the issue, lied a whole lot more, misrepresented the strength of local feeling, disposed of conscientious parish councillors in order to create a VVASP parish council, established a Windfarm Working Party before there was even a parish council in place to administer it, misappropriated tax-payers' money to spend exclusively on anti-windfarm campaigning, bombarded the district council with misleading nonsense and one-sided claptrap designed to fool public servants, forced the local parish councils into toeing the Church Lench line and bullied and harassed anyone who expressed an independent opinion.
All this to try to manufacture the impression that the majority of local people are opposed to the windfarm and therefore the windfarm shouldn't go ahead.
These people are dangerous. They are evil. They are woefully misguided, fanatically doctrinaire, ideologically unsound, anti-democratic and shamelessly unpatriotic.
And so far, Wychavon DC have done nothing to help the real majority in the local area.
Welcome to Worcestershire, where democracy lies bleeding and crazed fanatics make decisions on everybody else's behalf, regardless of what the people really think.