The sermon today is taken from St Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians:
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie ...
The Wicked, incidentally, has now ordered his followers to take down their signs, in accordance with a written undertaken given to Wychavon District Council. He has admitted that the ghastly yellow signs were causing problems for people trying to sell their houses.
As for Wychavon - well, a three Act tragedy unfolded last Thursday. And, in the words of one of the Councillors, it's going to cost them "a bomb" if ScottishPower Renewables go to appeal. Which means it will cost the tax-payer a bomb. So, look out for more cuts to the Wychavon budget to cover the unnecessary costs of a planning decision taken entirely by the nimbies.
The day itself. Outside, just before the meeting started, a glaring mob of protesters wearing nauseating T-shirts and waving their placards (just how many of those things did they get made?) were caught jeering and taunting a single supporter of the windfarm live on BBC news. Even the nimbies' Herr Kommandant for the day was seen trying to hush them up - no doubt realising that they had just given the game away live on air. The grotesque intolerance of VVASP had just been clearly demonstrated to the whole of the Midlands.
Inside the Council chamber, things weren't much better. One woman had come along to support her husband, a shareholder in the hugely successful Westmill Wind Farm co-operative. She told Wind of Change:
When I arrived, the hall was pretty packed & I found standing space at the back. Four old people were sitting there, typical "middle England" type people, well spoken, sensible shoes, corduroy trousers, tweed skirts. One of the ladies pointed a spare seat after the four of them which I took ... All was going well until [one of the pro-wind farm speakers] waved at me & I waved back. Well, I could sense the immediate hostility towards me. All eyes from every angle were focused on me with such hatred in their faces ... If I could feel such intimidation in one moment like that, then it is no wonder that people who live in the Lenches surrounded by this vehement bunch are scared to speak out.
According to the Council, there were at least 200 members of the public present - most of them there to glare at and intimidate anyone who knows that windfarms are good things.
The session kicked off with a presentation by the planning officer, the main outcome of which was that the turbines would be almost impossible to see from many vantage points and angles.
Then came the nimby attack, led by Karen Lumley MP, who quoted VVASP's figures on local opposition - you know the ones: the "manipulated" figures which turn a village with way less than 50% of households expressing opposition into one in which 75% of residents are opposed. We can only hope that Mrs Lumley is a little less cavalier with the facts when she's speaking in the House of Commons.
The solicitor, hired by Church Lench at everybody else's expense, gave a pompous lecture on the subject of bats (even though this had not been advanced by Wychavon as grounds for refusal) and made the weird claim that SPR would be guilty of a criminal offence (bat-murder) if they built the windfarm.
One local argued that a handful of holiday businesses in the area would lose around £2 million if the windfarm went ahead. It would have been a more convincing argment if he could prove that the same thing had ever happened anywhere else.
Finally, Big Chief Nookie and his lumbering lieutenant spoke, the latter slyly alluding to a certain windfarm in Lincolnshire and a certain person who has made a series of elaborate and unfathomable claims about noise there (he reckoned he'd been there and heard the ever-elusive thumping noise of the turbines, but failed to mention the fact that the entire family had not actually moved out, and that the local council had, in what was nothing more than a gesture, reduced the rateable value of the farmhouse in question by just one council tax band).
Next came the freedom fighters. ScottishPower Renewables started, followed by a succession of Vale residents who all had experience of windfarms and could testify to the fact that they are not noisy. Sadly, the Councillors of the Development Control Committee weren't listening to any of this. They perked up a little when it was pointed out that Norton & Lenchwick Parish Council had withdrawn from the farcical Windfarm Working Party (oh? mutiny in the ranks?) and did their best not to hear the sensitive testimony of an 18-year old student, who no doubt made them feel very bad about the ludicrous decision they were about to make.
Last of all, a spokesperson for BLoW reminded the committee that they themselves had visited a windfarm, and pointed out that we would all be judged by future generations on the basis of how we responded to a looming crisis.
Then, the Council stopped for tea. One windfarm supporter reported that the only place she felt safe was sitting next to a policewoman in the cafe.
At ten past four, the final Act of the unfolding tragedy commenced. One by one, a succession of Councillors delivered a nonsensical anti-windfarm speech. Clearly prompted and misinformed by VVASP, they repeated, sequentially, pretty much every myth known to Nimbydom. One claimed that no one would ever consider planting a windfarm in the Lenches if it weren't for the massive government subsidies involved.
No one had told her about the joint report prepared by the IEA, OPEC, OECD and the World Bank for the G20 last year, which revealed that governments subsidised renewables to the tune of an estimated US $15 billion in 2010. In 2008, meanwhile, the same governments subsidised fossil fuel-based electricity production to the tune of US $557 billion. That is to say, coal, oil and gas-fired systems receive nearly 40 times as much subsidy as renewables. And as for nuclear - well, don't even ask.
The same Councillor was also clueless when it came understanding how subsidies for renewables work. Renewable Obligation Certificates are only awarded to generators on the basis of the number of kilowatt-hours they actually produce. So only a total pleb with no intention of checking facts/doing homework/talking sense would pretend that SPR wanted to install a windfarm at Lenchwick simply because the government was paying them to do it.
Another myth spun by a Councillor was that "countries which had been leading the field in wind energy were now having second thoughts" - a variant on the lie about Germany and Denmark putting a stop to windfarm developments. Yet another Councillor really did seem to think that larger turbines are "noisier" than smaller ones.
One Councillor, irked by reports of the nimbies' misbehaviour and extraordinary hateful aggression, tried to argue that VVASP are not nimbies. He really ought to get his dictionary out. Another had the temerity and tastelessness to suggest that one of the windfarm supporters (who wasn't actually present at that stage) had only moved up from Cornwall to escape the windfarms down there - a statement that was as loopy and unreasonable as it was unworthy.
For a brief moment, a light shone in the chamber. One Councillor knew all about windfarms because her daughter lives next door to one. She could happily testify that they're not noisy and that they look extremely attractive - in her words, they enhance the landscape. She also referred to a book which VVASP had kindly sent to her (we're not yet sure, but it was probably "The Wind Farm Scam", a quasi-scientific rant which has been effectively debunked by Professor John Twidell, one of the country's leading authorities on wind power and a supporter of Lenchwick Windfarm).
It would be interesting to know whether or not all the Councillors had received the VVASP book (which supplied them with so many of the misleading myths they spouted in the meeting) - and, if so, did they register these gifts?
And what kind of idiot would place more weight on nimby propaganda from a discredited protest group than on the hard science supplied by the experts in these matters, as well as the personal testimony of one of their own colleagues?
The long and the short was that, with the exception of the Councillor who actually knew what she was talking about, every member present voted against the windfarm.
Quite clearly, Wychavon District Council has wholeheartedly embraced the BANANA principle: "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything". Equally clearly, they had become mouthpieces for a dangerously irresponsible, intolerant, unscrupulous and unprincipled nimby mob. And the likelihood is that this will cost the district thousands and thousands of pounds, as the Council tries - and probably fails - to defend a decision taken on the basis of misinformation.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a whole pack of lies.