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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Farmer’s campaign claims cause upset

RESIDENTS have taken issue with a farmer’s claims that objectors to his wind turbine plans have waged a ‘nightmare’ campaign against him.

They have done nothing other than oppose the turbine in a legal and legitimate manner, they say, and list a catalogue of complaints against the farmer himself.

Stephen Shepherd, 46, of Drigg Moorside Farm at Holmrook, claimed publicly that there had been damage to his property that allowed his animals to stray on to the road, verbal abuse and even death threats. He said he was “alarmed at the lengths people would go to’’.

Villagers claim however that they have been the victims and say that Mr Shepherd should “substantiate his claims, or withdraw them”.

Mr Shepherd alleges that his protestors have blocked the entrance to his farm, however the objectors say that only one “peaceful protest” has been carried out – on the day that Copeland’s planning panel visited the site.

Villagers who live in the Drigg, Seascale, Ravenglass and Holmrook area were up in arms about the prospect of an 80m turbine impacting on views of Scafell, Great Gable and Yewbarrow.

It has been turned down at London’s High Court, but a second application for a smaller, 45.5m turbine has now got the go ahead. Villagers feel that the process has been undemocratic.

Emotions have been running high, and if allegations from both sides are to be believed, it has been more than a war of words. Residents say they have held back from pursuing complaints because the farmer has three children.

John Hughes, of Brow Edge, Stubble Green, said Mr Shepherd’s allegations were “absolute rubbish’’ and accused him of “trying to arouse sympathy for himself that is not justified’’.

Mr Shepherd said: “We kept our heads down when the larger wind turbine was going through planning but decided to go to Drigg Parish Council and defend ourselves during the second application. We told councillors what had been going on, but nothing was done or said.’’

The Shepherd family has farmed at Drigg for the past 100 years. They gave up dairy farming last year and are now keeping beef cattle. They also run a small caravan and camping and holiday cottages on the farm.

Inspector Mark Wear, from Copeland Police, confirmed that officers had been called to a “number of incidents” relating to the turbine row but was unable to give specific details.

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