Local people have been forced to use the Freedom of Information Act to wrest information about the ecological impacts of installing a wind turbine on the Hackney Marshes. The turbine proposal was announced in October with a three month consultation period. The period will end in ten days but the Hackney Marshes user group has still not been provided with vital information.
Annie Chipchase, the Head of Hackney Marshes User Group who spoke exclusively to ELL today, said she was surprised that the HMUG had needed to resort to using the FoI Act to obtain information.
She said that Hackney council did not respond to the FOI request until the deadline, when they announced that information contained in ecological surveys about bat and bird life on the marsh had to come from the Olympic Delivery Authority, which had commissioned the research.
HMUG member, Mike Trier, said: “HMUG requested data under the freedom of information act for surveys that the Olympic Delivery Agency had commissioned. The ODA now say that they are not prepared to release the data until they have “redrafted” it.”
Jules Pipe, the Mayor of Hackney, has claimed the surveys show that “the wind turbine would have no significant impacts on the ecology of the area”. However, the HMUG say they want the information to be made public before the consultation period ends in ten days time so residents can make an informed decision.
A survey of black Redstart and ten other species is the only information the ODA have published so far. The HMUG has criticised its accuracy.
Hackney council proposed the wind turbine weeks ago and started a public consultation to gauge residents view on construction. They also stated that the turbine would provide power as part of the Olympic legacy.
However, a spokesperson for the games disputed this, saying the turbine on East marsh “is not part of the Olympic legacy.” He added the ODA has an advisory role because they are managing the construction of the nearby Waltham Forest turbine. He concluded: “If the East marsh turbine is approved our role will not change, the two turbines are not interconnected.”
Hackney council has declined to comment on criticism about the initial refusal to publish the information.