As part of the media campaign behind the launch of the Government’s latest plan to reduce carbon emissions and lead greener lives, Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change announced to the country that “the biggest threat to the countryside is not wind turbines but climate change”. This is simplistic nonsense – propaganda.
Hidden within a raft of well-intentioned proposals to increase our reliance upon renewable energy sources, was a commitment to more onshore wind turbines and support for the “political persuasion” that was required to convince everyone of what a good idea these are. I think he’s clearly trying to soften us up for something, but is it really the lazy option of covering our precious countryside with wind farms or is there more to this than meets the eye?
I support an expansion of our renewable energy sector, in fact last year I berated the Government for being so slow to increase it, however I do not support all forms of renewable energy in all circumstances. Microgeneration, solar, CCS, nuclear power and feed-in tariffs are all options I support to reduce our carbon emissions and fight climate change. I even support wind turbines built way out at sea where they can best take advantage of the wind’s natural power, but I draw the line at onshore wind turbines unless they are sited very sensitively.
So I’ve got news for Mr Miliband. The precious countryside we still have left in Hertfordshire is constantly threatened by development proposals on all sides and we fight hard to protect our local environment. We are the most densely populated county. We have already done our bit. If we pave over our fields and clutter up the horizon with monstrous industrial turbines there won’t be a countryside worth saving.
Big onshore wind turbines only work roughly 35% of the time, are expensive and they damage local bird and bat populations (a 2002 study estimated 11,200 birds of prey (many of them endangered), 350,000 bats and 3,000,000 small birds are killed every year by turbines in Spain). They can be painfully noisy for local residents and it has been compared to the throbbing bass of a night club. On-shore wind farms are controversial and inefficient. Why is the Government pushing so hard for them, rather than solar power or the other options.
I think they are softening us up for a lot more nuclear power – on the basis that if we won’t have on-shore wind, there is no alternative….