Sunday, 13 January 2013

Time to stop the industrialisation of our landscape

I was going to do my first blog of 2013 on some form of writing subject, but after reading this I've decided to have a short rant on a subject close to my heart: wind farms.

I think they're intrusive, expensive, unproven and, in Scotland at least, their unstoppable spread is driven by one man's mania to reach an arbitrary, self-imposed and unreachable target. The 'facts' and figures given out by the renewables lobby and the Scottish government are mostly questionable and always exaggerated. When I checked out an application for a ten turbine wind farm in the Borders against a similar sized project in the United States, I found that the number of full-time permanent jobs that the Scottish site was going to create was allegedly ten times higher, which is ridiculous.

The rules have been bent out of shape to suit the developers, and when local authorities try to stand up against them, the applications they turn down are bulldozed through by the government. The opinions of the local people who will have to live with them are disregarded to an extent that is close to dictatorial. Communities which do welcome wind farms, and I admit there are a few, often do so because they're offered 'community grants' or some other form of cash incentive by the developers. In the real world these are known as bribes. The only people who really benefit are greedy landowners.

No-one knows how many turbines will be allowed before someone says 'enough', but between Stirling and the border at Carlisle there are currently a dozen wind farms visible from the road, some of them enormous, with plans for several more. Developers often start by siting only a few turbines, arguing that they won't intrude on the landscape, but as soon as the infrastructure for a turbine is in place the reasons for refusing further towers no longer exist. The landscape is already blighted, the pylons linking to the national grid are a reality, 'it's only fair to let us capitalise on our investment'.

A constant supply of clean, renewable energy is a laudable aim. I'm all for offshore windfarms, as long as I don't have to subsidise them. I like the idea of tidal and wave power. I just think what's happening now is so obviously wrong that we need a moratorium on further applications. The industrialisation of the landscape I love is too high a price to pay for something that's little more than a ruinous high stakes gamble.