Havering Council launch investigation into complaint planning officer used alias to champion solar park

Pyworthy solar farm is an example of what solar parks proposed for Havering could look like.

Pyworthy solar farm is an example of what solar parks proposed for Havering could look like. - Credit: Archant

Havering Council is investigating allegations that a planning officer anonymously commented on a public forum championing the proposed solar park.

Administrators for the Havering Forum, an online discussion board, noticed a user called “Rastaozzie” was linked to an email account they believe belongs to a council officer who deals with objections from residents.

The council wants to build solar parks in Gerpins Lane, Corbets Tey, Upminster and land adjacent to Dagnam Park, Harold Hill, but residents and charities have raised concerns about the effect on wildlife.

Friends of Dagnam Park secretary Alan York said he was “stunned and disappointed” by these new allegations.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the allegations. The matter is under internal investigation and we are unable to comment further.”

Site user Lorraine Moss, 48, of Carlisle Road, Romford called for the proposals to be scrapped.

“I think everyone has got the right to post on a public forum but they should be truthful,” she said.

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“The whole thing [solar park proposals] has been done with misleading information. I would like to think they [the council] will do the right thing but I don’t have any faith.

“They need to look at the way the consultation has been carried out and they should throw it out.”

The Recorder reported last week that agricultural land opposite Dagnam Park acquired by the council five years ago was not used to expand the park despite the release of a January 2014 press statement saying it had.

Writing on the site, user Confused of Hornchurch said: “I find it strange that the energy strategy team have given a projected figure of £1million per year revenue but haven’t any information available on the costs of the project.”

Rastaozzie responded: “Why do you think anyone would invest in something that was guaranteed to lose money?

“What gives me a crumb of comfort is that the private sector is investing in solar park/farms in the UK which indicates that ‘thar is gold in them thar hills’.”

Rastaozzie went on to say that he mainly supported the proposals.

“Regarding do I think they are a good idea, yes I most certainly do,” he continued.

“Do I think they are in the right place, again most certainly yes for the Gerpins Lane one, Dagnam Park, well, I’m not that certain on that one and would be interested to see the details of any planning application.”

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