Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The folly of so called wind'farms' - a rant

First of all, let's get one thing straight: 

They are not 'farms' they are power stations (and notoriously inefficient ones at that).
It's just a marketing ploy on the part of the developers. The word farm conjures up visions for a lot of people of lovely fluffy animals and that romantic notion of a rural idyll with soft focus sunsets and fields of swaying golden barley. Of course most of us know that farms aren't really like that but that is undeniably the image that comes to mind for many people when we talk about the countryside. In my experience wind power stations are exactly the opposite. They cause irreparable damage to the land when the infrastructure to develop them is put in, they scar the landscape once they are in and the so called boost in employment is a joke. Many wind turbines are manufactured outside the UK and then shipped in. The construction work is often by non UK companies and once the rape of the land is complete the jobs are gone. The RES website (the company behind the latest proposed atrocity at Dunmaglass) is an absolute hoot to read. They talk about their 'heritage' - heritage my a**e. They've been around for 25 years. woohoo! Oh and they encourage their staff to cycle to work...woop di doo! sorry lapsing into a bitter tirade now - must try to keep a balanced perspective.

The people who work farms are stewards of the countryside and we rely largely on them to look after the land so that it can provide sustenance for us and for future generations. When I say sustenance I mean food of course in it's most basic form of the stuff we put on our plate. I also mean food for what some might loosely call our 'soul'. Now, I'm an atheist and so the concept of a soul doesn't really sit well with me but there is no denying that something wells up from deep inside of us when we stand on the summit of a mountain or catch a glimpse of a deer/otter/eagle/osprey/hare (delete as applicable) and sit transfixed for a while in awe of what we are witnessing.

The view from Stac Pollaidh

We all lead busy lives with mounting pressure from all directions, the incidence of depressive illness is on the rise and places where we can go to escape are becoming more and more scarce. A long time ago doctors realised that depressive illness could be treated with exercise which released feel good endorphins into the system. It is my belief that escaping into our wild land does the same thing: it enables us to regress from the technology obsessed, acquisitive, cotton wool wrapped human beings that we've become back to a more primitive entity whose basic needs are just food and shelter and in so doing we shed many of the stresses and strains that 21st century life saddles us with. How else can you explain coming back from a couple of days walking in the hills in crap weather feeling refreshed and raring to go?

The siting of these power stations is just a knee jerk reaction to the global problem of increased energy demand. Quick - we'd better do something - anything so that we look like we care and aren't standing idly by. The science doesn't even stack up! If the powers that be proposed building any other power station in an unspoilt area of wild land and said when they built it that it would only work at 30% of it's theoretical output (their figure not mine) what would we say? We'd say what we're saying now - don't do it - it's not worth it.

In years to come our children and our childrens children will look at the remains of wind turbines decaying on our hills and ask themselves 'what were they thinking???'

Suie in Glenlivet - plans for a power station near here too!

Now I know that you may be thinking here but what is the alternative? I don't have the answers but I know that this isn't it. I am keenly interested in environmental concerns, I have a wood pellet boiler in my house, I have solar panels to heat my hot water but I'm also practical. I have a 4x4 because I have to. If I didn't I would have been snowed in for several weeks and in my job I have to be able to get out. I can't say to a family for whom I am conducting the funeral of a loved one - sorry I'm snowed in, we'll bury him/her next week instead!

The government should be placing far more emphasis on getting people to reduce energy usage (anyone remember the power cuts of the seventies and the campaign to switch off lights etc) but I confess that when I look at the emerging nations like China and India and their destinies as consumer societies just like us I despair and the phrase pi**ing in the wind comes into my head!

Rant over now - there are better people than me who are gearing up for protest - not just about Dunmaglass but about the destruction of wild land everywhere in the name of energy security. Check out Alan Sloman's blog http://alansloman.blogspot.com/2011/01/bones-of-protest.html


  1. What a wonderful piece! Many thanks for the link to my piece as well Janet.

    All the best

  2. Yes first class, as Alan says. I've always tried to ensure I don't use the term 'Windfarm' for the same reasons you give. I tend to talk of 'turbines' although I notice recently I've lapsed. Must get a grip - the language is important.

  3. This is just so clear and concise and it says it all with no smoke-and-mirrors statements or spin (no joke intended). One big blustery sWINDle. And I'm so glad you're insisting on calling them Wind Power Stations in your blog, not farms. Please spread the word about the huge WPS planned at Nant y Moch in the Cambrian Mountains - it would have far-reaching ramifications for the people of Mid Wales if it was allowed to be built www.nonantymochwindfarm.co.uk