(Now there’s a surprise)
On Sunday, the BBC carried a poisonous propaganda piece on its innocent and soft-centred BBC1 CountryFile programme (which albeit has evocative graphics of wind-farms in its title sequence).
Reporter Tom Heap used the special report slot usually reserved for John Craven to look at the public debate over wind farms. I’ve no doubt that the BBC would say that the piece was perfectly balanced. They spoke not only to representatives of the wind industry, but also to objectors. What could be fairer than that?
Yet the whole thing was clearly designed to give the impression that wind power was necessary and inevitable, and that objectors were over-emotional and neurotic. For a start, the only reason for objections that they identified was visual intrusion, and there was some rather improbable and esoteric stuff about attempts to quantify the monetary value of a view, apparently by measuring the physiological response of viewers to pictures of turbines.
No mention of other environmental effects: the increasingly well-documented health impacts on local residents, leading to insomnia, headaches, migraine, and depression; damage to wildlife, to birds and bats; reduced property values; the blight on communities and homes and lives.
No serious mention of the broader economic effects: the CO2-debt associated with the manufacture, fabrication, delivery and erection of turbines, and of their related infrastructure — concrete bases, access roads, cable trenches; the high cost of wind-generated electricity, undermining our economic competitiveness and forcing pensioners into fuel poverty; the failure of turbines to survive for their design-life; the impact on the grid of intermittent and distributed generation; the threat to our energy security; the need for conventional back-up.
Two comments in particular from pro-wind commentators cry out for refutation — but passed unquestioned by Mr. Heap. A framer who had erected a relatively small wind turbine said “Of course we have to have wind if we are to stop the lights going out”. But wind power is the very thing that threatens us with black-outs and three-day-weeks. Because we’ve set unachievable targets for wind capacity by 2020, we shall fail to deliver the planned volume. And because wind is unpredictable and intermittent, we shall need conventional back-up of close on 100% of the planned wind capacity, and there is no clear evidence of this being built. So the current plans will inevitably lead to the very power cuts and blackouts that our farmer was concerned about.
Then there was a representative of the wind industry. Asked if he were not concerned about the vociferous objectors, he pulled a wry face and replied, “Well in the end it’s a democratic decision”. But that’s precisely what it is not. It’s a decision imposed on Britain, like it or not, by unelected and unaccountable Brussels institutions. It is exactly the opposite of democratic. We should be thankful for small mercies. At least the BBC had the decency to refer, repeatedly, to “Our renewables targets imposed by Brussels”. At least they got one thing right.