Power station protester: ‘I was gagged’

Nina Wells was denied a chance to speak at the planning committee. ANL-141009-144932001
Nina Wells was denied a chance to speak at the planning committee. ANL-141009-144932001

Protester Nina Wells claims she was gagged by council officials moments before she was due to speak against EDF’s proposed gas-fired power station at Sutton Bridge.

Mrs Wells, a member of the Wash and Sutton Bridge Protection Group (WSBPG), received an email from a district council officer confirming her as a public speaker at the planning committee where the application was discussed.

She said: “On arriving at the council offices, I spoke to one of the officers, who informed me that I was not on their list to speak and they had no record of it (the email).

“I protested and was, after some considerable time, confronted by a planning officer who informed me that, email or no email, I was not to be allowed to speak.”

South Holland District Council was a consultee on the application, made under the Electricity Act, and the planning committee voted 7-6 to impose a string of conditions having raised no objection at a previous meeting.

WSBPG chairman Colin Blundell said: “I think that the officers were terrified that we would be able to sway them (the committee), which is what we almost did.”

Mrs Wells is now pursuing a complaint against the council for denying her the chance to speak.

A council spokesman said: “We have received complaints which are currently under investigation and as a result it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.”

Among questions Mrs Wells wanted to ask were: “What possible justification can there be for building on greenfield agricultural land and a flood plain?

“How many other villages in this country would be expected to have two power stations, a possible incinerator and a wind farm on their doorsteps.”

Sutton Bridge people will live in the shadow of 17 chimneys – two at the existing power station – if the EDF plan and an even more controversial wood-burning biomass power station from EnergyPark Sutton Bridge get the go-ahead.

More than 600 villagers voted in a local referendum – a parish poll – for both plans to go to a public inquiry, but so far their wishes have been ignored.