Rash Promises and Public Money

08:30 Tuesday 16th October 2012
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Now, let’s talk farming, because there’s a row going on in Newborough in Peterborough. Peterborough City Council last night met with farmers affected by the Council’s plans to build a renewable energy plant. The Council is looking at three sites for solar and windfarms at Newborough Farm, America Farm and Morris Farm, which would involve shifting out tenant farmers. Farmers used the Newborough Parish Council meeting last night to voice their concerns, and ask for answers to their questions. Let’s speak to Nick Harris. He’s a farmer in Borough Fen, and chaired the meeting last night. Did you get any answers?
NICK HARRIS: Well we got a few. We got some very rash promises from Marco Cereste, which is quite interesting. He’s picked off 900 acres now, instead of the 3,500, so he’s sweetened the residents of Newborough by taking away the solar panels from the village. But he promised the farmers that they’re going to evict new farms, and I don’t really know how he’s going to achieve that, only by dividing the remaining land up and making the farms smaller, which is about his only option really.
PAUL STAINTON: What sort of reception did he get?
NICK HARRIS: Well we managed to keep order. It was a bit difficult, but he didn’d get a very warm reception. But of course he’s a very good politician, and by also promising the residents of Newborough village that they’d have cheap electricity, and that they would also possibly re-rate all houses, so that we would have lower rates, he was doing quite a good job there. But he was totally unphased by anything that was said, I have to say.
PAUL STAINTON: And he’s promised to speak to all people affected.
NICK HARRIS: He has, personally. He said if you personally want to speak to me I will meet you, which I thought was very brave of him, because I don’t really know what he can promise. If he’s going to evict you from your home and your land, there’s not much else he can offer you really, is there?
PAUL STAINTON: No not really. Was anybody placated, or is there still a certain amount of anger?
NICK HARRIS: I don’t think anybody was placated, because the figures that we were shown, they are so wishy-washy. You could drive a truck through the figures. If the residents of Peterborough, the voters of Peterborough, have got to find £200 million to ride this camel, I don’t know. It’s a bumpy road, and I think there’s too many risks. It’s just not worth the risk. There should be other ways that Peterborough City Council can patch up the hole in the budget.
PAUL STAINTON: There’s a long road to travel with this I think Nick before anybody’s placated, or before anything’s built.