A clear and unprecedented level of general objections were recently made in the Blantyre & Halfway areas to the proposed erection of a large wind mast at Flemington. Due to the fact that no Blantyre Community Groups were approached in advance, by either South Lanarkshire Council or the Healthy n Happy Group, Blantyre Community Committee sought to gather together individual objections via a website called change.org. It was not a petition, but instead adhered to the official objection process of sending separate emails to the Council, something that was done on time and complied with. 292 people took the time and effort to register their objections online in addition to the 170 that wrote in by normal means.
In the weeks leading up to the planning decision, concerns grew amongst objectors that their emails were being ignored. Paul Veverka, Blantyre Community Committee chairperson and Loanend resident Liisa Hepworth investigated and were dismayed to learn from the council that they had been received, but due to their similar nature, were stuck behind their IT firewall, in a spam folder. It appears little effort was made by the council to retrieve them and consequently, 292 objections were ignored.
In total, with over 460 separate objections and despite only having 1 letter of support, the decision was recently approved for the wind mast. Paul Veverka commented, “Blantyre Community Committee is highly disappointed in this substandard service by South Lanarkshire’s Planning Dept and given they acted in non compliance with their own guidelines and protocols, would question the legality of the final planning decision. A growing distrust of the local Planning department has appeared throughout the community certainly in Blantyre due to a catalog of failures from the local planning department. To approve a wind mast in the heart of Greenbelt land, when over 460 people objected and just 1 person in favour, shows hugely how out of touch the Council are with local communities and their blatant disregard for the aesthetics of the environment. We have few green spaces left in our town to enjoy. Furthermore, there is a certain irony that the remote Healthy N Happy group erecting the mast allegedly looks after the wellbeing of local people, when indeed they have not stopped to consider the stress and health concerns of the actual residents affected at Loanend, the pursuit of business income obviously taking priority. We wrote to them with our concerns, and were advised from them there would be no further communication, the decision to be left with planning. The level of objection to this mast was overwhelming and its approval only strengthens local efforts to ensure that a further wind turbine is never sited at that location. Meantime, it is hoped that both Blantyre Community Committee and residents at nearby Loanend Cottages are favoured with a written apology and response from SLC executives , once a thorough investigation is conducted.“