6 June 2004
|Join Battle With The Giants
In recent days I have been trying to imagine the look of the Mendip hills
where I live in Somerset, north of Wells, if permission is given to erect on
their summit an industrial building nearly 400 ft high, as tall as Salisbury
cathedral and taller than London's Centrepoint. Our corner of the West
Country has joined the ever-lengthening list of places in Britain where
residents have formed an action group to stop disfiguring the countryside
with expensive and pointless giant wind turbines.
In our own case, the group (of which I am chairman) is fighting only one
"wind monster", although, if this gets planning permission, there are
already plans to build more. The absurdity of our turbine is demonstrated by
the fact that at maximum power it will generate just two megawatts of
lavishly subsidised electricity - enough, at any given time, to boil only a
few hundred kettles.
To equal the output of a large conventional power station would need 500
such industrial windmills. Yet environmentally they are worse than useless,
since the minimal savings they make on carbon dioxide emissions will be
cancelled out many times over by the phasing out in the next few years of
our CO2-free nuclear power plants.
Ours is only one of more than 60 such battles being fought across Britain,
thanks to a decision by our Government and the EU that, over the next 20
years, we should rely on "renewables" such as wind to produce up to a fifth
of our electricity. Led by such distinguished environmentalists as Professor
James Lovelock and David Bellamy, ever more people are waking up to the fact
that this is all based on a huge self-deception - and most of the local
battles now getting under way involve whole forests of turbines, such as the
20 recently proposed for North Devon, 18 for Oswestry on the Welsh borders,
50 for the north Pennines at Whinash, 500 in the Hebrides.
On Saturday June 19, groups from all over Britain are invited to Saddleworth
in Yorkshire for a day-long conference, to be addressed by an array of
environmental and energy experts led by Prof Bellamy and Sir Bernard Ingham.
The conference (details from www.countryguardian.net) is organised by a
Labour councillor, Ken Hulme, leading the local campaign to halt seven huge
turbines on the Pennines, in association with Country Guardian, an
invaluable data-source run by Angela Kelly, a 75-year-old widow, from her
cottage in central Wales. Her website plays a key part in co-ordinating the
The common cause of all these campaigns is to alert the nation to the scale
of the energy crisis looming over Britain, thanks to our Government's
pipedream that a fifth of the EU's power can be generated from "renewables".
In the UK alone the Government's target can be achieved only by building up
to 22,000 turbines, 20 times more than we have now, dominating vast tracts
of our countryside - and with a rationale that makes no shred of
environmental sense, not least since all that capacity has to be permanently
backed up by conventional power stations, to make up for the two-thirds of
the time when the winds' energy is not sufficient. Our battle in Somerset is
only a tiny part of a battle that involves us all - directed at exposing one
of the real insanities of our time.