20 November 2011

Wind Farms – simply no need


Wind farms, and in particular the ones on land , create a lot of emotion and passion. In my humble opinion they are an unnecessary eye sore, extremely inefficient, expensive to us consumers and a sop to those environmentalists who have a pathological hatred of nuclear energy. Cards on the table, I do not like them.

The argument for wind farms go something like this; we are running out of gas, nuclear is potentially dangerous and we should be looking to renewable energy to counteract the effect of global warming.  All well and good and I do not think anyone can seriously deny that this part of the argument is valid and justifiable. Also wind turbines produce no actual waste.

However wind farms, particularly on land are very expensive to build, expensive to run and maintain and by their nature are completely reliant on the fact the wind is blowing all the time. Despite what many of us who grace the top of our fells think, the wind does not always blow. Last winter in the long cold ‘snap’ before and after Christmas we were sat under a high pressure with no wind at all. The wind turbines produced nothing of value exactly at the time demand for electricity was at its highest. Pointless. Coupled with the fact that the turbines are seriously expensive to build & run and this cost is passed directly on to us consumers (50p in every £1 I heard in some areas) then surely it is simply not viable.

The argument then becomes much more volatile when discussing these turbines as to how they look and what damage they cause  to the environment. I do become somewhat NIMBYish (Not in my own back yard) about the issue but really I just dislike the look of them, wherever they are – they are simply pig ugly and wreck the aesthetics of our upland areas. And here is the rub – so many people who are in favour of wind farms make the point that this is the reason why the anti brigade do not want them built – ‘it spoils their precious countryside’  and the irrational dislike (jealousy?) of those who live in urban areas have for those living or visiting regularly rural areas comes into play. Similar to the argument for building houses all over the countryside the arguments become at this stage heated and irrational. One other issue which needs pointing out – the 1,000s of birds killed by the enormous span of these beasts every year.

It is neccessary to pull people back to the facts; wind farms are costly and do not work effectively. If you covered the countryside with them from coast to coast they would only account for 25% of our needs and completely wreck our countryside. There are better options and I am afraid nuclear is one of them. However other more environmentally friendly options are available (tidal, hydro electric, solar (!) and wind turbines way out to sea where the wind is more reliable)  – all of these options are expensive but I think this is the price of the times we live in.

If anyone wishes to go out and look at how unattractive they are just have a drive up the M66 or the M74 but more than that get out and take a walk through a field of them. I defy anyone not to think there is something evil about wind turbines. No More Please.

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On a more positive note I am delighted to say that the Weatherline website produced via the Lake District National Park Authority has been saved, at least for another year. The main asset of this service is during the winter months when two hardy individuals, Jason & Jon, hike up to the summit of Helvelyn (from the striding edge side) every day to report accurately on conditions in the high mountain regions. The website attracted nearly 1 million hits last year but cuts at the National Park risked its future. Outside funding has now secured the service and many thanks to the 5 or 6 sponsors for supporting the service. I say this with feeling as I have been part of the support team who have secured the funding and it has all been immensely satisfying.

Previous Posts:

Inspired by Autumn Watch? Some photography of animals in the countryside and the pleasures of limestone walking

Extending the National Parks. Views and news on the decision to extend the national parks of the Lakes & Dales

Using a map to navigate. Why using a map and compass adds so much to a good walk.

Walks for the family. How to educate your children to enjoy the great outdoors.

Away from the Crowds. Some tips and suggestions on where to still find peace and solitude when many walks are crowded out.

My favourite villages in the Dales. The villages in the Yorkshire Dales which are extra special.

Delighting in photos. Why it is so easy to enjoy photography these days.

More than just a walking heaven. Different reasons why people take to the fells and dales.

Watch out for the little blighters. Sheep ticks continue to be a growing menace.

Map Reading Skills on the decline. Impact of new technology on traditional navigation.

Hidden Yorkshire Dales. The joys of walking in my favourite lesser known dales.