Monday, July 20, 2015

Serious questions raised about Eon's involvement in the Visitor Centre issue at Spurn.

Since writing a blog about the meeting relating to the proposed Visitor Centre at Spurn a further tranche of detail has been revealed, this time associated with the initiative's sponsor, Eon.

Eon, as a major commercial energy supplier, operates a Community Fund. Where it recognizes that communities have either experienced disruption due to the construction of wind turbines in their area ( construction traffic, noise piling activity and so on ) or lost a previously valued view of a local landscape, it offers "compensation payment" to the overall community to be used on facility provision locally, which is very laudable and positive.  Within such provisions it pledges community involvement in the choosing of schemes and acknowledges that any scheme should have the backing of the community.

Well it would seem such has not quite operated as closely to the guidelines as might be expected. In the above case, for example, over 90% of residents at Kilnsea village are against the proposal.  Similarly it seems the views of the community weren't tapped into as assiduously as one might expect. Eon maintain that they had contact with the local community on this specific matter, but the Parish Clerk maintains this was not the case. Whilst Eon apparently did have contact with the ERY Council, the latter asserts it advised Eon that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust was very unpopular with the community and little expectation of a "buy in" to the proposal could be expected. This was apparently confirmed later by a Freedom of Information enquiry. Given that the "buy in" principle is claimed to be basic to the funding process something appears to have gone horribly wrong within the progression of this whole affair.  Time to start again ?

Little things mean a lot in rural communities as change is not as constant as in towns and cities. The assertion  by the Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust that  the Visitor Centre would be the making of the village has caused an upsurge of fury. For a village that was mentioned in the Doomsday Book, one that has a thriving pub ( not necessarily the case nowadays ), at least two caravan sites and bed and breakfast enterprises, it's not exactly dying on its feet.  The thought that the YWT was viewing itself as some latter day saviour has not gone down well, particularly in view of its poor reputation anyway, and demands to be publicly rectified to avoid the issue causing a rift.

Similarly the assertion by an Eon representative that the attendees at the meeting weren't representative of the opinions held by the majority of the local community is somewhat flawed. as the above quoted figure suggests. If matters are to move forward smoothly such opinions and public statements need to be fully explained rather than left hanging.

In my personal opinion much appears to have emerged at the meeting which requires attention and pretty quickly at that. The idea of providing an opportunity for grumbles etc to be aired was a good one and is generally felt to have met its objective. However,it would seem unlikely the views of the local residents will change dramatically because of newly emerged issues and their continuing opposition will lead to a costly demand on time and resources by all other organizations involved. I think I'd be thinking also of the potential aftermath should the proposal move forward as any form of local support and recognition in the future will be in short supply.  Again, does all this suggest a new start is required?

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