Energy giant hits back at claim over 'trying to buy support' for wind farm near Lincoln
Developers who want to build a controversial wind farm, with 10 turbines all taller than the cathedral, have hit back at claims they are trying to 'buy' support.
RWE Npower Renewables has completed a consultation exercise as part of its plans for land off the A15 north of Lincoln.
The company asked local residents how they would like to see a community investment fund spent in the Hemswell Cliff area.
But opponents from all eight of the parishes surrounding the site have claimed that RWE is offering financial help in return for residents' support.
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Campaigners at Villages of the Cliff Against Turbines are also pledged to oppose the proposed 17-turbine plan for Brown's Holt near Corringham, Gainsborough.
VOCAT said in a statement: "RWE has once again employed the market research company Cogent to try to manipulate public opinion.
"When the first failed application submission was made they were out offering people £30 to go to their meetings.
"Now the revised submission is in they're at it again asking people to fill in questionnaires about use of the mysterious 'community fund'."
But RWE revealed that more than 500 responses were received. And the majority were asking for initiatives to help create jobs, supporting apprenticeship schemes, projects to occupy teenagers and young adults and funding to support rural transport initiatives.
"There were an impressive 540 responses to the consultation," said RWE Npower Renewables developer Neil Parnell. "In 2012 we invested almost £1 million of community benefit funds into local communities close to our operating sites.
"In the light of this track record, the suggestion made by VOCAT that RWE npower renewables is unable to deliver benefits is clearly incorrect.
"It is very important to emphasise that our community benefit fund is in line with industry-wide and Government-agreed community benefit protocol. It is incorrect of VOCAT to suggest we are trying to manipulate public opinion by offering a community benefit fund.
"As a responsible developer, it is important to us that we offer community benefit packages that really meet the needs of local people living near our wind farm sites."
West Lindsey District Council said that consultations will end this week, but there is no date for the application to go to the planning committee.