Harvesting subsidies, not cereals

RH addresses the meeting at the Rose and Crown pub, in Thorney.

RH addresses the meeting at the Rose and Crown pub, in Thorney.

This is green vandalism at its worst.  Peterborough Council is proposing to take 900 acres of prime agricultural land around Thorney, Cambs, for a solar and wind farm.  In the process, they are giving notice to a number of tenant farms who have been farming the land, in some cases for decades.  These farmers are being given up to twelve months’ notice to quit, which in terms of the agricultural year is not very long.

The site is in the Eastern Region, a few miles east of my East Midlands patch, but I was there as UKIP energy spokesman at the invitation of my friend and colleague Stuart Agnew MEP (see picture)

They’re planning half a million solar panels and nine giant turbines, costing £331 million. That’s if it doesn’t run over budget.  This at a time when even government ministers, like John Hayes and Owen Paterson, are starting to see the folly of uneconomic renewables.

It’s also at a time when cereal prices are rising, food is becoming more expensive, and the world is facing the challenge of feeding a growing population.  It’s at a time when land is being taken out of food production for bio-fuels, and when the EU’s CAP reforms are putting more obstacles and “greening obligations” in the way of farmers, who just want to get on and grow crops.  The policy now is to generate expensive and intermittent electricity by taking food out of our mouths.  Some people call it environmentalism.  I call it vandalism and folly.

I understand that the land will be re-designated as industrial instead of agricultural.  So when the turbines and solar panels are broken and rusting (sooner than you think), it will be a brown-field site, and more of the best farmland in the country will be concreted over.

Even in their own terms, wind and solar power are hopelessly uneconomic.  The operators will make more money out of subsidies than they will by selling electricity.  They are using the land to harvest subsidies instead of cereals.

But of course the claims of the renewables industry don’t stand up to scrutiny.  They conveniently ignore the fact that intermittent generation requires fossil fuel back-up, run intermittently on a spinning-reserve basis, to fill in at short notice when the wind drops.  Run inefficiently, the back-up power stations use more fuel and create more emissions per unit of production than if they were run properly.  So the emissions savings claimed for wind and solar are largely offset by inefficiencies in the back-up generation. 

This is gesture politics at its most counter-productive.  But let’s be sure to point the finger of blame where it’s deserved.  Yes, we can blame Peterborough Council for this destructive and insensitive project.  We can blame the government for the massive folly of its green targets and its Climate Change Act. But the prime culprit is (you guessed it) the European Union, with its 2009 Climate & Energy Package. No one else in the world is taking such an extreme approach to the issue, and the EU, which represents only 13% of global emissions, will therefore make effectively no difference to CO2 emissions.  What it will do is to undermine economic competitiveness, drive energy-intensive businesses offshore, force households and pensioners into fuel poverty, and bankrupt our grandchildren.  It is economic suicide.  That’s why I’m supporting the Affordable Energy Initiative www.affordable-energy.eu.

One further point: while wind turbines are unlikely to see major increases in efficiency, solar PV may well improve dramatically, for example with the thin-film solar PV technology currently in development, which could be applied to south-facing windows in large buildings without devastating agricultural land.  It may be that solar could make sense in ten years’ time, despite the back-up problems.  Then we shall look back ruefully and wonder why we wasted billions on technology which by 2020 will be obsolescent, redundant and hopelessly uneconomic.  We shall wonder why we didn’t have the sense to spend a little more on R&D instead of billions on old-fashioned solar panels.

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14 Responses to Harvesting subsidies, not cereals

  1. Avellana says:

    I never cease to be amazed at the destructive nature of these applications let alone the long tem implications. All we can do is use the process of objection and the ballot box but so heavily is it weighted against rational thinking, it makes it seem unstoppable. The sheckles and the inducement has been already done. This must be, ought to be stopped in its tracks. Roger, you used the word extremism and I absolutely agree. Shame on them.


  3. B Hough says:

    Could someone please tell me, as if I couldn`t guess, which company / country will provide the wind turbines and solar panels?
    I bet they aren`t British!

  4. Mike Spilligan says:

    Mr H: As is usually the case, there’s nothing to add to your posting – it’s a “joined up” scheme for devastation, ruination and increasing starvation, all in one neat package. Only the rubber-stamping needed. I despair.

  5. Litonlife says:

    It’s simply about money, the whole wind farm scheme is a sham – money to money, with not a care about the livelihood of hard working people, cultural tradition, or the impact on the landscape and wildlife.

  6. mikestallard says:

    For everyone else this is sad and ridiculous news.

    For me it is the destruction of my beloved environment. I live here. I come from Peterborough. I was there when they built the bypass round Thorney. Many happy memories run along the A47 between Peterbrough and Wisbech where I now live.
    Now it is to be ruined – the lovely view all along the Fens across to Crowland or down towards Whittlesea.
    But – hey – that’s progress.

    And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. After the craze has passed, we shall get another huge estate, no doubt, full of feral children and Television Personalities from the Jeremy Kyle Show.

  7. DougS says:

    I live not too far from the worst performing wind farm in the UK.

    In 2010, Blyth Harbour’s output was a ‘magnificent’ 4.9% of installed capacity.

    Not so much 9 wind turbine generators, more like 8 ornaments and half a wind turbine!

  8. Yet another half-baked scheme.
    Don’t you find it very odd that we employ (at significant expense) a National Audit Office that is supposed to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money ?
    Yet contracts have been agreed to pay ‘switched off’ windfarms up to TWENTY times the going rate for electricity. Not a squeak from the NAO.
    And the whole scam involving intermittent and unreliable generation that means building back-up plants to ‘cover up the deficencies’ of windmill energy. Not a squeak out of the NAO.

    A form of ‘claimed’ renewable energy that has been sold – WITHOUT PUBLIC SCRUTINY (let alone that of the NAO) – behind closed doors by lobbyists and green activists.

  9. Avellana says:

    They call it salami-slicing in planning terms. All applications conjoined in some way, usually contracts, subsidy, some dire needed project and some jobs. Put it into the mix with the usual qwangos and their loose nooses of directives and we all loose.
    There was a slicing in Sutherland that involved a new road where it was not needed, an unnocupied listed college built for the sons of crofters by local subscription, turned into a desirable Local Gvt office, a collection of ‘affordable homes’,the removal of a good number of mature trees (that are scarce in these northern climes), a little bridge that prevented the big wind boys to get in to a AONB, an area of rare breeding birds, golden eagles, that represented 10% of Scotland’s wildland, an application to build a mega windfarm that exceeds the number of turbines for Highland Council to object, so cannot be rejected at a local level, regardless of resident’s views on the matter, and another small cluster of turbines tucked up on the ‘new’ road which CAN be approved locally (still with me?) as it sits close and on land that is peppered with many ancient archaeological sites, a dash of community benefit, the whiff of jobs, allows them to ransack the place, contract awarded to the local contractor who just happens to have his base on a vacated brand new mill site (paid for by us),now long since stripped of jobs and equipment and now a place for storing all the windfarm bulldozers, low lifters etc the company happened to have representation on the Board of a Local Government agency, The route at last was made by having the bridge upgraded for the small wind cluster and the humungous one that sits on peat, well that was next. A CO2 store, now ravaged.The eagles gone.
    Salami slicing is illegal. This was pointed out at all levels including Europe. That’s how they get away with it up here……….

    • Michael Fisher says:

      Agreed Avellana.

      Perhaps you might agree that rather than confronting a thousand minor foes, we should recognize that we are now facing a thousand faces of just one enemy – the monster that is attempting to destroy democracy.

      We must focus our whole nation’s power on that single monster’s greatest weakness because to focus on its greatest strength dooms us to defeat. See my additional comment below.

  10. Avellana says:

    Oh yes and the big cluster is up for expansion….

  11. Michael Fisher says:

    The United Kingdom is now being “salami-sliced” as Avallana has stated above.

    The United Kingdom’s (substitute Queendom’s) monarch is Queen Elizabeth II. The government, H.M. Armed Forces, Police and many of our other institutions are required to swear their allegiance to Her Majesty but not to ‘the government’. Many of the representatives Her Majesty appoints are no longer true representatives of Her Majesty. They are are more aptly described as corrupt representatives of successive corrupt UK governments of many darker shades than those of honesty and integrity.

    Her Majesty now reigns over a nation that has lost at least 70% of its sovereignty to the European Parliament. The remaining 30% is rapidly being eroded by squabbling, self-interested career MPs, ‘Big Business’, Globalism and a dangerous ‘New World Order’ that care not a hoot for the nation or our people. The same can be said of many un-elected bureaucrats with disproportionate authority, dubiously and unethically obtained influence and infinite ambition for self aggrandizement.

    They have already stripped away much that was ours by legal right, including our rights themselves and they are continuing to strip our nation’s people of almost every asset that is of monetary value or quality. Environment (both natural and built), the NHS, Education, National Security, Social Services, Housing, Transport, Pensions, Savings and a host of other factors that collectively make that larger, proud and caring community we call a civilized nation. Those assets and qualities are being eroded so rapidly that soon, within our lifetimes, there will be little if anything of value left. Take a look into the future where you will find a barren nation, devoid of all it once owned and all that our people struggled for and treasured. Even ‘hope’ is rapidly disappearing.

    War is approaching over the not too distant horizon. We need to join together in protection of all we hold dear to us and prevent that event from happening – if we can.

    Perhaps this is a cry from the wilderness but I am compelled to call upon Her Majesty to step forward and assert what power she has remaining over the destroyers of what is our and Her Majesty’s nation and all it contains.

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