Friday, 5 July 2013

E-on's public consultation: Now you see it, now you don't!

Hello and welcome to my blog.

This is an embarrassing blog to write.  Embarrassing, because I relied upon a misleading webpage put up by e-on. As a result I published several blogs, (7th and 14th May), which would have mislead you, the reader. For that,  I am profoundly sorry. I have also been made to look like an idiot.

What went wrong? 

As you know, since April 2012, I have been blogging, on and off, about the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm proposal.  Following the withdrawal of the proposal in February 2013, (because e-on had failed to consult all the statutory authorities), I was keen to know what would happen next.

This is what happened. A webpage called, "Current Status," helpfully stated:-

"Since submitting the DCO application for the Rampion Project on 14th December 2012, we have identified some areas that we need to add to the application...

This website will be updated with the final Rampion proposals once the application has been resubmitted and accepted. An examination period will follow which will be well publicised and we will let you know how you can have your say on the final proposals. We currently estimate to publicise this in March 2013 so do keep checking the website for updates.  

We're currently undertaking an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)... 

An additional eight week public consultation on the scheme begins from Wednesday 13 June, which will centre around the same proposals for the wind farm, but contain more detailed environmental information about the project." 

I can't give you a link to the page itself, because it was taken down on 14th June.

Well, I latched onto the prospect of a second public consultation, because I had been highly critical of the first one, (blog; The best kept secret in Sussex). Thus, on 7th and 14th May, I blogged about the new consultation dates. To my everlasting regret, I also re-assured my readers, you, that you did not need to register as an interested party by 11th May because of  this second public consultation.

In true geek style, I kept an eye on the post and press, eagerly awaiting details of where the consultations would be held. Nothing was forthcoming.

When did I realise something was wrong? 

On 14th June.

I checked the "current status" page again, and there it was "Wednesday June 13th." I realised 13th June was a Thursday, but assumed that this was an error. I was right. There was an error, but it wasn't just concerning the day.

The error was that  E-on had forgotten to:-
  • mention that it was 13th June 2012 not 2013
  • change "begins" to began
  • change "will centre" to centred
  • change "will contain" to contained
Unaware of this, I emailed Chris Tomlinson, Rampion's Development Manager, on 12th May, asking about the consultation.  He responded on 14th saying, "There isn't a Rampion public consultation due to start tomorrow," and within hours the webpage was taken down.

He was a bit more expansive when I threatened to contact the press and, "apologised for any confusion this has caused you."

Confusion? I wasn't confused. The entire paragraph on the additional public consultation, should not have been on that webpage.  It had nothing to do with the application's current status.  It was an "historical record of progress to date." That's a very a significant difference and e-on should have the grace to apologise to anyone who read it, and like me, got "confused." It also begs the question, how many more people would have registered as an interested party if they had known of this error?

Am I bitter? 

No. This isn't the first time I've felt like an idiot, and it won't be the last.

I am, however, very sorry that I misled my readers and in particular, if you, like me, did not register as "an interested party," because of what I said.

Regarding e-on? My faith in their ability to successfully build and operate one of the worlds' largest wind farms, is fading fast, for this is the second time that they have forgotten something important.

Due to the length of this blog, I'll tackle, "What makes us human?" and my book next time.

Thanks for popping by. I hope you have a good week, and see you in a fortnight. 

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