The curious case of the wind farm planning application at Slaithwaite Moor, that named one of the landowners as wind-farm opposing UKIP MEP, William Dartmouth (aka The Rt Hon William Tenth Earl of Dartmouth, aka William Legge), which we have written about here and here, has taken a new twist today.
This blog’s enquiries and questions about William Dartmouth being named as an owner of the land in question has prompted further enquiries by others, which have resulted in the following statement by Lord Dartmouth. issued by the UKIP Press Office this afternoon and reported by the Huffington Post:
Statement from William Dartmouth MEP re wind turbines in Kirklees
08 April 2014
I am issuing this statement in response to [social] media interest in a planning application to Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire for three wind turbines to be built on Slaithwaite Moor.
I am not the applicant.
I do not own the land in question.
The land which is the subject of the planning application is owned by a relative.
I derive no benefit, financial or otherwise, from the land as it stands, nor would I if the planning application were successful.
An adjacent piece of land, which is owned by me, was erroneously included in the application. This strip of land would not be involved in the wind turbine application in any shape or form.
As a UK Independence Party MEP I fully endorse the party policy to oppose onshore wind turbine development.
The reason that the name Rosscroft Ltd appears on the above planning application, as well as in relation to land which I do own, is that they represent the entire extended Dartmouth family as well as many other clients.
Lord Dartmouth is clearly hoping this draws a line under the matter. But, while there is no suggestion of any illegality, Dartmouth’s statement raises further questions given his party political policies and the information he has released:
- This appears to be the first time that William Dartmouth has mentioned that the land in question is actually owned by a member of the Dartmouth family. Did he not think it relevant to mention this when UKIP asked him about the matter following complaints from residents in the area?
- The transfer of the land from William Dartmouth was to Rosscroft Limited as shown on form TP1. Yet Dartmouth says the land is owned by a relative. Does this mean therefore that the offshore-run company, Rosscroft Limited, is actually a Dartmouth family-owned business?
- Although William Dartmouth explains he will derive no benefit, financial or otherwise from the land now or if the planning application were successful, does he accept that a member(s) of the Dartmouth family would derive financial benefit if the wind farm planning application is successful?
- As Lord Dartmouth says that land which is owned by him was erroneously included in the application, when did he (or his agents Carter Jonas) raise this serious error with Kirklees Council, as no correction has been made in the five and a half months since it was submitted?
- Valley Wind Co-operative say on their website that after many years of searching for the best site for a wind farm in the Huddersfield area, they found a suitable location at Slaithwaite Moor, above Slaithwaite & Marsden. They say that Valley Wind Co-operative was formally created in 2009, to take the idea forward. This was while William Dartmouth was still the owner of the land in question. Did Valley Wind and William Dartmouth therefore discuss the proposals for a wind farm while he was the land owner?
- Is it a mere coincidence that the land transferred to William Dartmouth’s ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited in 2011 just happened to be the parcel of land Valley Wind had identified as the best site for their wind farm, while adjacent land remained under his ownership?
- Was Valley Wind’s interest in the land for the wind farm a consideration in the land being transferred to William Dartmouth’s ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited?
- Was there any political motivation on the part of William Dartmouth to distance himself from involvement with a wind farm by transferring the land to a ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited, thus ensuring a Dartmouth family member would still stand to gain financially from a successful application?
- Is it a mere coincidence that all the directors of Rosscroft Limited were replaced by offshore individuals and companies shortly after Valley Wind’s pre-application enquiry about the wind farm and before the formal application was made?
- Will William Dartmouth, having influenced his ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited over the plans for Cupwith Reservoir, now seek to influence their acceptance or rejection of a wind farm on Dartmouth family-owned land, or will he oppose the wind farm application as an adjacent land owner even though his ‘relative’ stands to benefit from financially if it was approved?
In the absence of clear responses, the public will draw their own conclusions about this matter, which seems to be far from over.