It is a challenge to keep up the with rash of windfarm planning applications breaking out across the East Midlands, and especially on the Northants/Leics borders along the A14 and M1 corridors. Both I and my colleague Chris Heaton-Harris have been active in supporting local protest groups.
Whilst many people are broadly in favour of green/renewable energy, particular projects should meet proper economic and environmental criteria. These wind farms do not — they are mere gesture politics, which are already adding 14% to the cost of domestic electricity bills. This figure will increase as the government seeks to reach its EU-imposed targets by 2020. New wind farm developments should also respect existing homes, villages and communities. They should not (as many of these applications will) blight lives, property values and the countryside.
A recently published paper by the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Economic Affairs on Renewable Energy (Chaired by former Kettering MP Lord Freeman), finds that the ability of the UK to influence world emissions is near zero. Consumers will not want to pay dramatically higher prices for wind energy when the effect of global emissions is trivial. Much of the UK’s man-made emissions come from transportation, agriculture, heating and industry.
Many planning applications for wind turbine farms are coming perilously close to established dwellings (and it is interesting to note that Denmark is just introducing restrictions on turbines placed closer to a dwelling than eight times the turbine height). Health issues from low frequency noise (infra-sound), blade noise (heard more at night) and visual “flicker” are seriously worrying. Where applications are for sites on open moors and peatlands, necessary excavations release so much carbon into the atmosphere as to negate 50 years of well-meant climate mitigation attempts.
European countries with a substantial investment in wind already have problems balancing their National Grids but are able to sell any excess power to neighbouring countries. There have been no de-commissioning of conventional power stations! For much of the time the turbines produce no power at all, and indeed sometimes actually consume it.
I was delighted to hear that Derbyshire Dales Council is appealing against a planning approval for a wind farm at Carsington Water. I wish them every success, and hope that other councils will follow suit.
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