Complaint over wind campaign claim

Steven Bridgett
Steven Bridgett

An official complaint has been made to the county council over an inaccuracy in an election campaign leaflet put out by a north Northumberland candidate.

Coun Steven Bridgett, the incumbent in the Rothbury ward who is standing for re-election, put out a leaflet which claimed that an application for a wind turbine at Follions Farm in the parish of Callaly had been refused.

In the material, he is quoted as saying: “Once again our area showed the kind of community spirit that makes me proud to be your local councillor and the application to build this turbine was refused.”

But the application, for a 78-metre turbine, has not been refused and is still pending consideration with the county council planners.

Speaking to the Gazette, Coun Bridgett said: “I was under the impression it had been refused. However, I still believe it eventually will, given that there have been more than 100 objections from members of the public, but also an objection from the National Park who are a statutory consultee, and there are also serious concerns around the impact this will have on the ecology of the area.

“However if this is an attempt to silence my opinions on windfarm development or for me to back down in my objection to this application in particular I am afraid that is not going to happen.”

Coun Bridgett also explained that he recalled the leaflet as soon as he realised the mistake and that the material never made it to the parish of Callaly, in which the proposed wind turbine would be sited.

Mark Wisniewski, of applicant Ogden Renewable Energy, contacted the Gazette to flag up the inaccuracy, describing the leaflet as ‘grossly misleading’.

A county council spokeswoman confirmed that no decision has yet been taken on the application for Follions Farm, and that the council has received an official complaint about the information that was issued by Coun Bridgett.

A decision on the turbine proposal is expected to be made under delegated powers by county council planning officers.