A SURVEY has been launched after Ferryden residents felt they were unable to put forward their views about GlaxoSmithKline’s turbine proposals due to being “intimidated” by objectors.
Ferryden Community Council has taken the step to mount the survey online, on paper and through the Review for those in its ward after fears were raised that the full spectrum of local opinion is not being expressed.
Chairman Gordon Brown said at the group’s meeting on Thursday he was angered that some local people who support GSK’s plans feel they cannot not express their views openly at a public meeting for fear of being “in the firing line” of “activists”.
In a letter to Mr Brown one villager, who declined to be named, said: “My mum was approached by one of the No Way GSK and asked why she was not supporting them. They made her feel intimidated and the No Way GSK member was angry that she was happy to support the turbines.”
Mr Brown said he was concerned by this and it was not the first instance he had encountered.
He said: “I have had people voicing their support, neutrality and their objections to me. I have always encouraged each to come along to a meeting and to voice their opinion.
“Unfortunately, those in favour or with a neutral stance have expressed concerns with what has been in the press and on the web. They fear that they themselves are not good at speaking up and that the ‘bullying’ tactics of the local action group may be turned on themselves.
“This has really angered me that the people we are here to represent are afraid to speak their mind without feeling that they may be under some form of threat.”
He added that he felt the community council is not in a position to submit a definitive response to GSK’s planning application and, to clarify, sought legal advice from Angus Council on the community council’s role.
He said: “I have been advised that we should base any decision on the opinion of the residents of the ward. In the interests of fairness I would ask that members of the community council encourage people to start taking part in the survey but at the same time not to steer or influence people.
“I would also ask that we discourage the practice of filling in multiple responses. If the survey is seen not to be a true reflection of the community’s feelings then it may be discounted.”
No Way GSK member Ian Paton agreed intimidation by the group’s campaign is “unacceptable” but he questioned the survey in relation to the public meeting organised by the community council, and held in the village in September.
He said: “We had a meeting which was well attended and the feeling of that meeting couldn’t have been more clear. Wasn’t that your mandate?”
Mr Brown stressed that at the time no planning application had been lodged and anything considered as preconceived opinion could be discounted.
As well as the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FCCCGSKturbinessurvey and the form on page 15 of this week’s Review, paper copies are available from Montrose Library, the Rossie Island Shop, Inchrbrayock Church and The Roomies B&B, William Street, Ferryden. Completed forms can be returned to the same locations up to Sunday, February 12.