As a result of the overwhelming view expressed by the majority of the 53 members attending the AGM on l5th October 2014 our president, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, has resigned. This newsletter is to provide members with the background to why the resignation occurred and subsequent developments, especially for those who were unable to attend the AGM.
A summary of events is as follows:
Winds of Change Monday October 13th 2014
SIR ó I have a well-placed 15 kWh wind turbine on my farm on Bodmin Moor, to which no one objected and which I regard as a thing of beauty, as do many of my neighbours (Letters October I 1). With the 50 kWh generated by my modest array of solar panels, I generate enough electricity for 33 average households, which is fed into the grid. I also drive a fully electric car. My turbine cost me £60,000 three years ago and earns me about £10,000 a year ó a fair return for using my capital to help the country stop using fossil fuels. If every farmer with a suitable site did the same, we could approach electrical independence without any capital investment from the Government. The countryside would look much as it did in the Middle Ages, when every village had a windmill.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Bodmin, Cornwall
The president's resignation letter, which he wished all members to see, is also now reproduced:
I understand that it is the wish of your Committee that I resign as President of the CVBMPS because I have a wind turbine and have advocated their use when subject to rigorous planning controls. I do so with great regret and sadness but I will, of course, continue to be a member of the Society and to support the excellent work it does, when I feel able to do so.
I am very proud of all the Society has achieved over the 40 odd years since I helped found it. We have won many good fights and done a lot to preserve our beautiful landscape.
While I believe that wind turbines and PV orrays which create inappropriate intrusions in the landscape should be strongly opposed (and I have campaigned and fundraised to this end), I also believe that we need to generate more clean renewable energy in order to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. I do not believe that all such developments are damaging to the countryside. I recognize that this puts me out of step with a majority of current members of the Society, but I believe they are wrong. A blind opposition to all forms of renewable energy and denial of anthropogenic climate change is a dangerous path to follow. I suspect that if the Society continues, as I sincerely hope it will, the next generation will have more enlightened views on how to protect our countryside and landscape, recognizing that change is not always a bad thing.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison 1stt November 2014
That resignation letter is unconditional. Several of Robin's assertions involve substantial inaccuracies. His resignation was not "the wish" of the committee. Robin had taken the initiative at the outset when he offered his resignation at the AGM. The directors simply accepted formally that offer at their next board meeting. The perceived mood of many members attending the AGM was a significant factor that influenced their decision. The society does not have a "blind opposition to all forms of renewable energy", is not unenlightened, and does not believe that change is always a bad thing. It has time and again been made clear that we support the need for renewable energy and oppose only developments that would seriously damage the integrity of our countryside and environment.
My reply was as follows:
As I informed you on the telephone, your offer of resignation as expressed in your letter has been accepted by the trustees on behalf of the membership. Their views expressed at the AGM were sad but clear, leaving the board no option but to accept your resignation as president. I am not going to comment or argue about any of the points you have made - we all have our own views and these are respected. It is sad because you were a founding member of the Bodmin half of the Society and have done a lot for it; your experience in environmental matters has been invaluable and I am pleased that you will remain a member. I express the sincere thanks of all members of the Society for your service and hope that good relations will continue into the future.
Richard 4th November 2014
Robin's Telegraph letter is clearly at odds with the objectives of the society and, whilst some of our members will hold differing points of view, a president who broadcasts such opinions makes the work of objecting to inappropriate developments all the more difficult ("Your president has a turbine, why not me?"). Recommending that every farmer should have one was a suggestion too far.
The letter struck most members at the AGM as uncalled-for and inept. Cornwall has already achieved more than double the planned generating capacity from renewables for the county up to 2015. To see a similarity between the windmills of the Middle Ages and the far larger and more intrusive turbines of our own day is strange and singular. The uncommon aesthetic pleasure that the president apparently gains from his turbine and which he supposes many of his neighbours share may be applauded as an amiable eccentricity; but to caption £l0,000 annually on an outlay of £60,000 as "a fair return" - even, in his response at the AGM, appearing to think this a quite meagre reward - was insensitive and provocative. This was evident from the astonished reaction it drew from correspondents in the Telegraph and from members at the AGM, who are conscious that wind turbine and solar panel feed-in tarifs have increased energy bills for all, constituting a regressive taxation that redistributes wealth from the poor to the rich.
A president is neither a director nor a trustee. We shall seek to identify a person to fill the void created by Robin's resignation. The Rules provide for the appointment to be made at an Annual General Meeting by a vote of members present on a show of hands.
It has been a regrettable, unintended consequence that some renewable energy projects have split families and damaged friendships. This should not and must not happen in lhis case. This letter has been written to all members of our Society in the interests of openness. Now is the time for closure on this subject so that we can continue with our task of protecting the landscape of the Camel Valley and Bodmin Moor.
CAMEL VALLEY AND BODMIN MOOR