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?


Photo Credit: thinkstock


Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

Joseph B, what a rant! It would be justified if wind turbines were *efficient*! There is evidence of wind turbine promoters giving false figures about their effectiveness in displacing carbon emissions. They were fined by the Advertising Standards Committee.

Shane, farmyards aren't pretty, but you drive past them in seconds and they don't 'tower above the hills.

To all the people concerned about birds and bats - gives a shocking picture.

Bats and insectivorous birds are killed by wind turbines. The lungs of bats explode. They are vital to the economy because they eat so many insect pests that would devour our crops. The threat is enough to drive them to extinction. Then, to keep our crops safe, we would smother them with chemicals. Insects breed much faster than bats or birds, so produce resistant strains. Oh, yes, we have an answer to that. GM crops!

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

Shane, I wasn't going to earn any more points in a thread no-one is reading, until I came to this.

"the head-in-the-sand, i-don't-believe-it, i-read-it-in-a-paper-so-it-most-be-true, brigade."

Just as true of the pro-wind brigade..

"Global warming is a reality. There is no doubt. The science is overwhelming."

Yes, exactly. That's why we need *efficient* means of tackling it.

Erecting a forest of slim white totem poles expressing your desire to combat global warming is no use whatsoever when the wind doesn't blow.

Science will invent better means of producing genuinely green energy, and then we'll be stuck with clanking white elephants all over the once-beautiful hills.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

John T, don't quote Barnard on Wind. You won't get anything but pro-windmill spin out of him. Better to google Clive Hambler wind wildlife. He began his career being pro-wind, but has got all the qualifications and experience to form a realistic assessment.

Anti-wind protesters in the UK can be clearly seen to have nothing to do with promoting fossil fuels. We can be sure of this because of the number of times it's repeated that when the wind drops, fossil-fuelled back-up stations plug the gap, polluting more as they are on half-power. We use this argument *Against* wind!

To those who think wind farms are attractive. The have a certain slim whiteness, but they are Huge - out of proportion to their surroundings, and the movement draws your eye, making it difficult to ignore them and enjoy the rest of the view instead.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

PM of the tabby cat, I've just seen your last comment.

"start lobbying Government about the REAL issues facing this island nation - the prostitution of our national heritage to the highest bidder."

EXACTLY!!! Of course that is what the anti-wind lobby is doing!

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

Another Past Member - this time with a tabby cat avatar.

Since you are so indifferent to the destruction of the countryside that you think we should all sit back and let it happen, what would you say if you realised that every time the wind drops, and its power drops by the wind speed cubed, it is necessary to ramp up the old fossil fuelled power stations to plug the gap? And remember, they pollute more when they re forced to go up and down, to fir the vagaries of the wind!

We can never stop wind power from dropping off so sharply (at 10 mph it produces less than 2% of the power of a 40 mph wind) but we can upgrade the back up stations - . quite possibly to gas from fracking? Why not invest in more reliable renewables instead?

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

Marisa C, where did you get this one from?

"It's laughable that most of the time no-one could care less about the interests of wildlife and birds, but they are happy to use them as and when they want, to argue against wind farms. "

Or, in my case and that of many like me - We *Do* Care, but until there is a threat to them, we don't have to stand up and say so!!!

I wonder if anyone will see my belated comments? I was in hospital at the time this was fresh..

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

Two great comments – spot on!

Past member said:
“Confirmed productivity of the wind farms is only up to 10%. Turbines are not effective when the wind is either below or above the required speed, and that is most of the time. Such low productivity doesn't justify ruined large mass of land, ruined landscapes and constant danger to wildlife and birds.”

Susan B said:
“It's all about who can give the biggest bribes to get things moving obviously Solar Panel manufacturers cannot afford to give as much as the Wind Turbine makers to the powers that be!!!”

As PM recommended:
“Everyone and especially those responsible for sustainable energy should read "The Meaning of the 21st Century" by James Martin. Confirmed productivity of the wind farms is only up to 10%.

I’ve researched wind farms extensively (as opposed to getting my “facts” from turbine manufacturers’ spin) so I’m quite certain of the truths of PM’s post (and pretty certain of the bribes as well!)

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

Ken Y, "bitching" about unreliable white power sources that harm birds and bats and need to be backed up by fossil fuel stations, which pollute more when being ramped up and down, is mediocre, is it?

It's proof of my "mediocrity" that I know wind power drops by the wind speed cubed, making these things virtually useless when the wind drops. No wind in one area means light winds elsewhere, so they can't back each other up as claimed.

The industrial park in Mid-Wales would be constructed on the headwaters of the River Severn, the longest river in England or Wales, which suffered horrendous flooding this time last year. Only the most "mediocre" citizens of Worcester, where many were made homeless by floods, would "bitch" about the increased risk in the future...

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

Gyan, I don't suppose you'll see this now, but do you think you'd get hundreds of gas or oil plants smothering the hills? No, you would only get one!

Marty S.
Marty S4 years ago

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.