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Chill wind is blowing for the turbine profiteers

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: June 07, 2012

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COULD this be the tipping point for the proliferation of wind turbines in Cornwall?

The Government is considering huge cuts in subsidies to onshore wind farms which, it says, add £6 to everyone's annual electricity bill.

Lincolnshire Council is the first to declare war on wind turbines with proposals to block any within 10 miles of homes.

Council leader Martin Hill has declared Lincolnshire has 75 large turbines and doesn't want any more. Cornwall has a lot more, with probably hundreds of new planning applications in the pipeline.

A few years ago, it was rare for Cornwall Council to refuse permission, irrespective of local feeling.

These days, the authority is taking more heed of residents' views and judging for itself the effect a particular turbine will have on the landscape, and some are now even being turned down.

Anti-turbine groups have pointed out for years that they are inefficient and, like subsidised solar farms, companies have little to lose and a lot to gain by building them. That goes for the landowners too, who allow these structures to be built in their fields for profit.

Opponents point to countries such as Denmark and Germany, which were both well ahead of the UK in harnessing the power of wind to generate electricity, but have since decided they weren't such a good idea after all, and have dismantled a great many of them.

Environmental groups support turbines, pointing out that the only alternative is more nuclear power stations. While no one would object too much to offshore wind farms, the rights of communities living near proposed sites to support or object to them must always hold sway when planning decisions are being made.

When a local authority refuses permission for a wind farm, companies usually challenge that decision in the High Court, and often win: but now even judges are considering their impact on local communities.

A few weeks ago, a High Court judge ruled that the rights of villagers in Norfolk to preserve their landscape was more important than the Government's energy targets.

Many people in Cornwall like wind turbines, both aesthetically and on environmental grounds, but even they would not suggest they are efficient in supplying the percentage of electricity to the grid once claimed by the companies that build them.

Communities which fight turbines always say they ruin the landscape. What they never say, in public at least, is that they are also afraid they will devalue their homes.

If the Government does reduce subsidies, there will be fewer wind farms, that's for sure, but what is the alternative for generating electricity other than more and bigger power stations? The Government should bite the bullet and admit offshore wind farms are the real answer.

They will be far more costly, but if companies do choose to put them out at sea, people would not mind too much paying subsidies towards that. Tory politicians wouldn't kick up a fuss either, as there are few votes to be had out at sea.

Yes, the tide is turning for onshore turbines, but to protect Cornwall's wonderful landscape, the Government should not dither over reducing these subsidies as it did with solar farm tariffs, causing a flood of fresh bids to beat the deadline.

There are probably hundreds of turbine applications in Cornwall now in pre-application discussions with the local authority. Cornwall should take Lincolnshire's lead and stop them in their tracks.

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  • Lftrsuk  |  June 10 2012, 12:35PM

    Wind energy is about 5% of the 19% electricity content of UK energy use - that is, less than 1% of the total - and all of this environmental and scenic degradation for such a piddling contribution. Lovers of renewables - the idea that a spaghetti-like interconnection of windmills and squares of plastic can keep our lights on 24/7 is insane. Strange that the immense contribution breeder reactors can make to supplying almost all of our energy requirements, equitably, to every individual on the planet, for all of time, is not as widely fought over as inconsequential wind power. Whilst generating electricity, high temperature breeder reactors can supply process heat as well as electricity to industry, for most of their operations. They can create a hydrogen economy to facilitate production of carbon -neutral liquid fuels for all transport, from atmospheric CO2. They can produce carbon-neutral ammonia as feedstock for fertilisers, from atmosperic nitrogen. They can economically supply hydrogen as a reducing agent for steel making. Their 'waste' heat can desalinate brackish groundwater and sea water, to produce vast quantities of potable water. In electricity generation, Small Modular Reactor versions can be used for load-following - the job done mainly by CCGTs now. In other words, they represent the prospect of worldwide peace and prosperity as the clash of decreasing hydrocarbons and increasing population/energy demands looms on the horizon. Google LFTRs to see if you can get behind the one and only answer.

  • norfolkboy14  |  June 09 2012, 6:03AM

    Are you disillusioned by rising electricity prices, over dependence on the "green" dream [especially uneconomical and inefficient wind farms] and the destruction of our countryside then please add your support to get the Government to have a serious debate on this issue at http://tinyurl.com/cajsyrf or by GOOGLING "E-PETITION 22958" and following the link. Please pass this message on to Councillors, members of your community and anyone else you know to persuade them to sign up too. If you are really concerned about wind turbines please write a letter promoting this petition to your local Newsletter and to the Editors of your local newspapers.

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