Letter: We are owed an apology

So those alerting Ringmer to turbine noise were right (Sussex Express, January 20, February 3). More reports of noise locations arrived in the last few days, including Ringmer the National Park and Glyndebourne!

The noise issue was dismissed by Lewes District Council (LDC) planning committee at its meeting on July 11, 2007. Ringmer Councillor, Professor Emeritus Peter Gardiner, LibDem lead member for planning, authoritatively assured attendees that he had taught the subject at university and there was no problem.

Mr Gardiner was principal cheerleader for the turbine via this column. He stood alongside the developers throughout the quasi-judicial planning inquiry and submitted detailed evidence in support.

In his written evidence Mr Gardiner revealed that he had actually ‘taught traffic noise’. Despite this he incorporated three closely typed pages analysing turbine noise issues, reporting his visits to turbine sites, concluding, ‘there is no reason based on noise to reject this application’. He made two fundamental errors.

First he asserted: ‘problems [do not] apply to a single stand-alone turbine’; this was simply wrong, as available evidence showed. Second he reported: ‘All sites were visited by me in strong winds’; yet the noise code makes it clear that turbines seem noisiest in lighter winds.

A senior LDC officer subsequently explained that Councillor Gardiner was ‘giving his views on noise as a lay person’. What a shame we weren’t told this from the outset – then residents and planning committee might not have fallen for it!

Reporting recent turbine noise, one Ringmer resident wrote: ‘a number of properties in Ringmer were affected ... I observed it personally. I am extremely disappointed, given all the assurances I was given’. Yes – these words were written by Mr Gardiner himself. ‘Surely he cannot now shift the blame? His constituents deserve a full, unreserved apology.

Finally, may I pass on a useful piece of advice from others blighted by turbine noise and ensuing litigation? Residents with legal expenses via their house insurance should maintain this element of their policy.

Reg Keeping, Ringmer