Wind farm objector rages over forged document – 'Isn't it a criminal offence?'
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A key name in the objections against Watten Wind Farm says she has had a fake document sent in under her name to remove her objection to the plan.
Robianne (Bib) Harrold has property adjacent to the area where EDF Renewables intends to erect seven 220m high turbines – the tallest in the UK – and has been very vocal about her objection to the plan, having sent in an official objection to the Energy Consents Unit (ECU) and to Highland Council planning on September 12.
"On the 20th of September someone stole my identity and fraudulently wrote a letter to Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit in support of this proposed wind farm which was published for everyone to read," said Bib.
The document sent to ECU also contained a signature at the end which was redacted from the copy that Bib was able to access – with ECU claiming it was due to "data protection" guidelines. The document was free for the public to access, minus the signature, and the word "object" was stroked out and added in capital letters above it said "AM IN FAVOUR". Her name and address were then added in shaky handwriting at the end.
"I have requested this letter to be forwarded to me but have been told that the Data Protection Act 2018 restricts them from providing a copy of the representation showing my forged signature. I always thought it was a criminal offence to steal someone's identity and forge their signature?"
Previously, Bib had said that EDF did not consider her properties at West Watten when undertaking its analysis of homes affected as the company "marked them as uninhabited". She challenged this and EDF amended its data.
"Developments of this height should not be constructed near residential populations especially in a peatland and forestry area. It also puts the area at greater risk of wildfires should a turbine catch fire," she said.
"It is in too close proximity to the Sheilton Peatlands – part of the Flow Country which is nominated for World Heritage status. Highland Council's chair of the economy and infrastructure committee, Cllr Ken Gowans, aims to provide vitally important protection for the Caithness and Sutherland Flow Country, with no site in Scotland previously nominated for wholly natural World Heritage criteria."
Bib says she got in touch with Citizens Advice to see if it could assist in her obtaining a copy of the fake document that includes the forged signature but it was unable to help. "They told me I need to get a solicitor or the police involved which I intend to do because it's a criminal offence to steal an identity and forge a signature. Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit are protecting a criminal by withholding the signature from me."
She added: "I am one of the owners of the property right beside it and find it very strange why I was targeted by identity theft while there are hundreds of other objection letters submitted.
"In my opinion the only people who would have any interest in my involvement with the objection is someone who will benefit from the wind farm or someone who has received a financial incentive to write this support letter."
On September 17, almost 50 protesters turned up at Watten's village hall to make a very vocal protest about plans for the wind farm proposal with many citing the extreme height of the structures as a key issue as they will dominate the flat moorlands of Caithness.
Developers say the wind farm would have a total generating capacity of up to 47.6MW along with a 20MW battery storage system. Lying approximately 3km to the south-west of the village, it would generate enough electricity to power up to 29,300 homes, claims EDF Renewables.
An EDF spokesperson said the company was not aware of the fake document issue but said it was good to see that it had been quickly removed from the ECU website.