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The War of the Wind Farms is Raging in Britain

The War of the Wind Farms is Raging in Britain

A war is raging in the UK: the war of the wind turbines.

In the United States, the debate has focused on the disturbing number of birds, including eagles, that have flown into wind turbines and been injured or killed.

In the UK the issue is shaping up to be a battle between money and beauty.

The UK already has more wind turbines than the rest of the world combined: they tower over the north east coast, parts of Scotland, the south west and Wales, even over the delicate Vale of White Horse in Berkshire.

The London Array, Britain’s biggest wind farm, with 175 turbines, employs 90 people at its base in the county of Kent. Situated 12 miles offshore, it became fully operational in April, 2013.

Prime Minister Cameron’s government is committed to offshore wind power in the UK: these turbines can currently generate more than 3GW watts of energy - enough to power two million homes.

Now there are two more giant proposals for wind farms in the works: an inquiry opened earlier this month for a wind farm covering 600 square miles of the Welsh hills. This is beautiful country that would basically become an industrial park, with associated quarries, roads and infrastructure.

240 Giant Wind Turbines In The Middle Of The Bristol Channel

Equally overwhelming is an application this month for the Atlantic Array, a development of 240 giant wind turbines to form a visual wall in the middle of the Bristol Channel, between South Wales and North Devon.

It is in this beautiful area of England that the war is currently focused.

From Yahoo:

Steve Crowther from the Slay The Array campaign says it will be “environmentally catastrophic”.

“They call this an offshore wind farm – it’s inshore. It is between this beautiful Devon coast visited by four million people every year and the Pembroke coast visited by three million people every year.

“And people don’t come here to see the landscape and the horizon covered in wind turbines. They come here for peace, tranquility, rural settings and seascapes.”

I will admit to my own bias at this point. Having just returned from walking on part of the South West Coast Path in Devon, a spectacular 630-mile trek around the “foot” of England, which conservationists and hikers have worked hard to create, I am alarmed at this proposal.

I enjoyed beautiful vistas out over the ocean as I walked along the red cliff tops of East Devon. If this proposal goes through, many of us will re-think completing the North Devon section of this walk.

Nevertheless, those in favor of wind power say that it is clean, renewable energy, and that the companies involved are providing work for hundreds of people. DONG energy operates 48 turbines off the coast of Essex, in the south east of England; they have which have been up and running for three years and supply electricity to 120,000 homes.

A U-Turn On Wind Power?

Recognizing that there are strong feelings on either side of this issue, Prime Minister Cameron recently announced that residents will be able to stop the construction of wind farms under tough new rules.

His regulations are expected to require that local people’s concerns should take precedence over the need for renewable energy. Communities will also receive more money for agreeing to host windfarms nearby, with householders set to get hundreds of pounds off energy bills.

Hum, residents get more say, but they also get more money? Interesting.

But on June 15, The Telegraph revealed some alarming numbers:

A new analysis of government and industry figures shows that wind turbine owners received £1.2billion in the form of a consumer subsidy, paid by a supplement on electricity bills last year. They employed 12,000 people, to produce an effective £100,000 subsidy on each job.

The disclosure is potentially embarrassing for the wind industry, which claims it is an economically dynamic sector that creates jobs. It was described by critics as proof the sector was not economically viable, with one calling it evidence of “soft jobs” that depended on the taxpayer.

These figures will undoubtedly fan the flames of the controversy even futher.

As Europe’s second most densely populated country (after the Netherlands), Britain has until recently allowed cities to expand while maintaining distinct boundaries between town and mostly unspoiled country.

As Simon Jenkins points out in The Guardian, this planning has long been popular. When polls were conducted at the time of the Olympics, almost all ranked “the English countryside” with the royal family, the armed forces, Shakespeare and the National Health Service as symbols of national pride.

Britain is also a very small country; throwing up hundreds of wind turbines means polluting the horizon for many, many citizens.

Will money or beauty win this war?

 

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Photo Credit: thinkstock

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257 comments

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11:13AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

I have a serious concern about wind power. On the surface it seems that the major issues re esthetic. What strikes me, however, is the possibility that large scale wind use may disrupt established airflow patterns. It's likely that we don't even know about some vital and potentially critical air streams.

9:48AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

It is time not to abolish wind farms, but to modernize them. The giant turbines are archaic, and they are not only ugly and dangerous to birds and bats, but quite inefficient by cutting edge standards. Were we live, the transformation is beginning with new smaller, more efficient and more eco-friendly turbines, that are also cheaper to install, being put up instead of the giant turbines. This will mean more wind generated electricity, without most of the issues. Furthermore, the stands for the new, smaller turbines, make great poles for installing multiple solar cells on them.

2:02AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

Best option so far

3:23PM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

Anyone rather have a gas or oil plant in their neighbourhood?

9:27AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

We do need energy and that will not change, so we need to have clean and efficient methods for getting the energy with need.

IT IS OUR OWN FAULT THAT THE EARTH IS IN GLOBAL WARMING.....TOOOO MANY PEOPLE......TO MUCH POLLUTION...AND GOVERNMENTS....EVERY WHERE.... WITH NO BALLS!

1:27PM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

thanks for sharing

9:28AM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

Thank you.

10:44AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

There is no question, they are not attractive. Yet, I commend England in erecting hem.

2:28AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

bitching about lovely white power sources that harm nothing is man's mediocrity in full flight

8:59AM PDT on Jul 15, 2013

As with most all inventions, the product or item is huge when fist developed and over time it becomes smaller and much more efficient! The wind turbines are huge but eventually they will slim down and one turbine will produce enough energy that 10 or 100 wind turbines once produced. I would rather stay with wind turbines and have engineers design a better and more efficient one than deal with the mess that the fossil fuels are creating on our beauty planet, the only planet that sustains us!!!! We do need energy and that will not change, so we need to have clean and efficient methods for getting the energy with need.

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