Prehen campaigners ‘plainly wrong’ says Minister Attwood

Campaigner George McLaughlin pictured in the ancient woodlands at Prehen.
Campaigner George McLaughlin pictured in the ancient woodlands at Prehen.

A war of words has erupted between Environment Minister Alex Attwood and the Prehen Historical and Environmental Society.

The PHES accused the minister of “keeping them in the dark” about developments at the site of the ancient woodland a claim - “utterly rejected,” by the minister.

The group have been campaining against development at the environmentally important woodland for some years. Last year they met with Minister Attwood to air their concerns and last week George McLaughlin of PHES contacted the ‘Journal’ to ask: “Why is it taking so long for the Minister to deal with our request?

“Our very genuine questions, regarding the incomprehensible decisions on Prehen by the local planners, will not go away.

“The decision to approve this damaging development at this ancient woodland site must be reversed. Once again we are asking our supporters to contact the minister and remind him of his obligation to do the just and right thing for the environment and the general public and overturn this unacceptable development.”

The group also complained they were not invited to the attend a site visit by the minister earlier this year: Asking; “Why are we being kept in the dark?”

Minister Alex Attwood responded with: “It is plainly wrong to claim that anyone is being kept ‘in the dark.’

“I am free to visit any site in respect of a planning application, concern or dispute. At times I do so with applicants and/or objectors and/or officials.

“At times I do it entirely alone. So I take no criticism on how, why and when I visit development sites.”

The minister concluded adding: “When I have received legal advice on this site I will decide how to proceed. I have given the PHES time and meetings. I have listened. I have visited the site.

“I will see what I can do but I will not act beyond my legal authority or arbitrarily. There has been enough of that sort of behaviour in the past,even the recent past and I will not do likewise.”