email received 20 April 2005
I recently wrote that David Bellamy had consistently declared his opposition to wind ‘farms’, along with Sir Bernard Ingham,for about 15 years. I
It is interesting how many of the luminaries, who hitherto have remained silent, are now openly declaring their opposition.I wrote letters to many of them over the years, but they just encouraged (sometimes begged!) me to fight on and said they couldn’t go public themselves ‘because of their position’.
The Rt. Hon. Neil Kinnock, CG’s first Patron, The Rev. John Oliver (former Bishop of Hereford and spokesman on the Environment for the Church of England) CG’s Patron, Nigel Evans MP (Con), President of CG,Sir Bernard Ingham, Vice President of BG Colin Pickthall MP (Lab) Patron of CG,
are some of those who never fell into that category and have given us enormous support over many difficult years.
We salute and thank them.
DAILY MAIL 20 April 2005
William Wordsworth, the Lake District's most celebrated poet, once 'wandered lonely as a cloud' before famously setting eyes on that 'host of golden daffodils'.
But if old William were to be floating over the hills and vales of his beloved Lakes in a few years' time, it wouldn't be golden daffodils that catch his eye. It would be 27 ruddy great wind turbines.
Wordsworth, I am absolutely certain, would be appalled at such a prospect and so am I. The idea of building Europe's biggest wind farm on a hillside north of Kendal is an absolute disaster.
The site is slap bang between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Park. And never mind that the land isn't officially part of the National Park itself - who would want 27 turbines anywhere, each of them higher than St Paul's cathedral at 377ft?
But that is exactly what the developers of this Lake District project are proposing, and they stand a terrifyingly good chance of getting the official green light following the public inquiry which started yesterday.
Not only has there been a hugely controversial relaxation in the planning
rules governing wind farms by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, but there is strong support for the wind farmers from several eminent conservationist groups, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
So why aren't I, a life-long conservationist, supporting them too? Because these wind turbines are big, ugly, hugely damaging to wildlife and, most importantly, they don't do what they are supposed to do.
Wind turbines, you see, are incredibly inefficient. Indeed, it is one of the reasons they have to be so high, to make the most of what wind there is.
But when the wind stops blowing - as it regularly does - the turbines stop turning and the electricity stops flowing. So we still have to have all the nuclear and fossil-fuelled power stations anyway - unless we're all going to stop boiling our kettles, watching the TV and using our computers whenever the wind stops.
So much then for the Government relying on wind farms to meet its target of having 10 per cent of the country's energy needs generated by renewable resources by 2010.
Wind farms could eventually contribute something like 7-8 per cent,according to supporters, but only at the cost of ruining some of country's most beautiful upland landscapes and only on days when the wind blows constantly and at the ideal speed.
Official statistics from the Department of Trade and Industry in 2003showed that wind farms deliver less than one quarter of their full capacity- by any account a grotesquely inefficient provision of energy.
And only now are we beginning to discover the true extent to which wind turbines blight human lives as well as landscapes. They are simply not very nice to live with - they are noisy, send out low-frequency vibrations that many people find unpleasant and they cause flickering light patterns.
Indeed, one wind energy firm, whose wind farm overlooks a prison, has just had to agree to shut down its turbine on sunlit mornings because the flickering light irritates the prisoners and interferes with security sensors.
This is an extraordinary volte face by an industry which in the past has heaped scorn on those ordinary people who have dared to campaign against proposed wind farms or complained about the debilitating effect that existing ones are having on their lives.
But this is far from the end of the wind farm horror. These infernal machines also interfere with TV and radar signals, and their huge concrete foundations and miles of access roads ruin views and can lead to both the erosion of soil and the pollution of ground water. Not surprisingly, windfarms are beginning to have a damaging effect on both tourism and house prices.
And, to top it all, there is the undeniable fact that the turbines' huge circling blades kill huge numbers of birds and bats.
In Spain, figures showed that 6,450 birds had been killed by 400 turbines,a slaughter that includes 405 endangered griffon vultures from a remaining total population of only a few thousand. In California, it has been a similar story with 40 to 50 golden eagles ripped apart each year.
Small wonder, then, that our own Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,despite being a supporter of renewable energy, has said it will object to any wind farms that seriously threaten important populations of birds and their habitats.
Let me make one thing clear: as a naturalist and conservationist, I am hugely in favour of renewable energy. Indeed, I can get pretty passionate about my own personal favourite for generating the energy of tomorrow,which is wave power, coupled with on-going improvements in energy conservation.
But wave power is dependent on technologies that are still being developed. In the meantime, we could be making the most dreadful mistake by relying on wind farms that will ruin both lives and countryside for years to come.
And the crisis is not as great as our ruling establishment would have us believe. As Mail readers know, I have never bought the global warming argument which has driven the Government's unseemly rush towards renewable energy and which is always wheeled out by wind farm supporters.
My belief is that global warming is a largely natural phenomenon and that the world is in danger of wasting stupendous amounts of money on trying to fix something that can't be fixed and doesn't need to be anyway.
Studies of rocks, fossils and ice samples show that carbon dioxide levels increase from time to time and so does the Earth's average temperature. It's natural.
But even if I am wrong, even if carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossils fuels was responsible for global warming, wind farms would not be the right way to solve the problem. Unless we're going to cover the country with them, they will never produce enough electricity and nor do they sufficiently reduce carbon dioxide emission.
Because wind speeds in this country are so variable; because wind turbines are so inefficient, and because fossil or nuclear fuelled back-up will always be necessary, the savings in carbon dioxide emissions are nothing like they are cracked up to be.
Indeed, the Government's own figures show that even if they meet their 2010 target, global carbon dioxide levels would fall by less than one thousandth, an amount so insignificant as to be barely measurable let alone have any impact on climate change.
Anyone who says different is simply recycling yet another myth promulgated by an industry determined to erect its gleaming but still satanic mills wherever it can on what is left of our green and pleasant land.
Whatever government we wake up to on May 6, it is time these wind farm fallacies were exposed. We need reliable, externally audited figures about outputs and efficiencies.
We need to be told whether the industry is economically sustainable without the government subsidies it receives.
We also need to know whether it is true that the manufacture and construction of a wind turbine, up to the point where the blades first turn, consumes more energy than it will produce in its normal life span.
Until then, we must not swop one inch of our gloriously windswept British landscape for some half-baked fantasy technology that blights lives and generates more problems than it ever will electricity.