Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Telegraph article highlights windfarm public feedback

Following our consultation on the propsed windfarm at Silton on the AONB borders this article from the Telegraph (click on link to see article in full) throws an interesting slant on the arguments. Below I've taken a few excerts for you to delve into greater detail if you wish.

Hill Farm, Tallentire, is squeezed between two of Britain’s loveliest landscapes, the Lake District National Park and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), just at the point where they most nearly touch each other. Yet work will begin there next month on erecting six 300ft wind turbines.

Local planners had rejected the wind farm because of its “harmful effect on the landscape”, only to be overruled earlier this year by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. The men from Whitehall agreed that the turbines would “reduce the sense of wildness and remoteness” of both specially protected areas and admitted that the they would make only a “small” energy contribution. But they still ruled that this outweighed the spoiled views.

The development is just one among many that show, as the Campaign to Protect Rural England says, that wind farms “are increasingly being directed towards more remote, tranquil areas”. Political concern, fuelled by this trend, came to a head this week when George Osborne proposed action against them.

Now a backlash is gathering pace whilst Supporters are striking back. On Monday the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute will launch a report designed to “dispel myths” on wind power. Despite passionate opposition from many local groups, and increasing hostility among the chattering and political classes, the great majority of Britons back it. This week, in the latest of a series of similar opinion polls, 68 per cent of respondents told ComRes that new wind farms were “an acceptable price to pay” for greener energy. Some other polls have even shown that communities living near existing installations like them. Yet an Ipsos Mori poll, published in March, suggests opinion is polarising.

Certainly the wind industry does not help its case. The industry has often ridden roughshod over local communities and is increasingly hated by those who have come into contact with it.

The industry needs to change, as we are going to need wind as part of the energy mix. Indeed, it is the healthiest of the four main low-carbon technologies. Nuclear power is increasingly in trouble, with construction companies pulling out and plants delayed.

So the industry will have to be much more careful about where it sites its turbines, and a lot more ready to consult communities and share the benefits with them. And the Government will need to encourage community ownership – and do very much more to boost the development of other renewable sources like tidal power.