The case against the use of wind farms in the UK

They’re damaging our upland landscapes

The companies who build wind turbines have spread their net indiscriminately across the uplands of the United Kingdom, destroying the character and diversity of the countryside.

This rush for gold from the wind is out of control. Planning legislation developed over the last 80 years is being ignored, allowing planning officers little chance to object. Opposition is being crushed by a government determined to force industrial structures on communities fighting for their backyards.

Why do local authorities reduce the community charge for people living in the vicinity of turbines? Why do estate agents tell homeowners that wind farms will reduce the value of their homes?

It’s not cheap electricity

‘It’s destroying the character and diversity of the countryside”

The wind may be free but the cost of harnessing it is not. The government’s Renewables Obligation, Climate Change Levy and Renewable Obligation Certificates double the costs that consumers pay for energy from wind power.

A single 2MW turbine operating at 30% load factor receives a subsidy of over £235,000 every year. The chief executive of Eon UK, one of the companies building wind farms, said: “Without the renewable obligation certificates nobody would be building wind farms.”

They’re very inefficient

The average output from a wind turbine is less than 25% of its installed capacity. In the UK there are 166 wind farms with a total theoretical capacity of 1960MW. On average, they generate only 490MW of intermittent and unreliable electricity. Compare that hiccupping dribble with the average winter demand in the UK of 50,000MW.

They don’t cut carbon dioxide emissions

Eon Netz, one of Germany’s largest energy utilities, admitted in 2004 that every 1MW of installed wind power required 0.8 MW of back-up from “shadow power stations.” So even when they are not actually generating power, wind turbines are still causing CO2 emissions.

In the following year they went further: “Dependence on the prevailing wind conditions means that wind power has a limited load factor even when technically available. It is not possible to guarantee its use for the continual cover of electricity consumption.

“Consequently traditional power stations with capacities equal to 90% of the installed windpower capacity must be permanently on line in order to guarantee power supply at all times”.

They’re unpopular

The wind industry claims that opinion polls show that wind turbines are popular. But ask planning officers and they will tell you that whenever there is a planning application they receive hundreds of letters of objection from people living near proposed sites.

Week after week, correspondence in the local press shows huge opposition to applications and public meetings are filled to overflowing with residents opposed to the desecration of their piece of the countryside.

Nimbyism perhaps, but if you don’t look after your backyard who else is going to?

They should be abandoned

The dream of windpower has attracted those who think that the problems of climate change can be solved by a quick fix. But it is a discredited technology which generates large sums of money for developers and is destroying the look of the countryside.

It should be abandoned and our land rescued from the salesmen who are trawling the countryside with false promises of combating climate change.

  • Ann West is vice-chairman of Country Guardian, an organisation that campaigns against wind turbines.

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