Campaigning against wind farms

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Every so often, UKIP members and sympathisers write to me asking how they can best campaign against proposals for wind farms in their locality.  The best advice is contained UKIP’s Guide for Campaigners.  I wish I could say I wrote it, but in fact it was written by our good friend Godfrey Bloom, and very good it is too.

Sadly, the rules of planning applications allow objections only on local issues.  You may not argue the folly of Brussels and/or UK government policy on renewables — pointless and counterproductive as it is.  Nonetheless I have managed at a Planning Hearing at least to snuck in (without being ruled out-of-order) the point that our goverment seems very confused as to what its policy is.  You may like to quote David Cameron’s recent reported comment that we “should get rid of this green crap”.  (For once I agree with him).

An excellent local issue, which you may and should quote, is housing blight and the impact on property values.  In that context, it’s worth being aware of the comment by Tory MP Geoffrey Cox (Torridge & W. Devon) that wind farms reduce house prices by at least ten to fifteen percent, and “up to one third”.

Other local issues include health impacts on susceptible local residents, and impacts (literally) on birds and bats, rare birds and raptors, migration routes.  Impact on horses and risks to riders.  Visual intrusion, especially in AONBs, SSSIs, heritage sites and landscapes — and consequent knock-on effects on tourism.  Heritage and environmental organisations have sometimes been equivocal on renewables, but on occasion, and where local factors appeal to them, they may be helpful.  Worth speaking to NT, English Heritage, CPRE, even RSPB.  And your local council.  After all that, pray for great crested newts.

That said, it is helpful for campaigners to be aware of the broader national and economic issues, even if they can’t be cited in the specific context of a planning inquiry.  In economic terms, intermittent reneweables are a disaster.  Costs are much higher than the industry admits, while the expected reductions in emissions are not delivered.

The key papers you want are first, “Why is wind power so expensive?” by Prof Gordon Hughes, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which shows that the emissions savings, and the power produced, by wind turbines are largely offset by the inefficiencies involved in running the gas back-up intermittently to complement the variable wind.  Gas-fired plants run well below capacity are also uneconomic, which is why the European Commission & DECC are planning “capacity payments” – effectively, a new layer of subsidy.  You can’t consider wind farms in isoaltion.  You have to look at the system of wind plus back-up — and then you find that intermittent wind exports inefficiency to the fossil-fuel back-up.

The second study, of the performance of wind farms over time, published by the Renewable Energy Foundation, is dramatic, and shows rapid declines in output over ten to fifteen years (against a design life typically assumed to be around 25 years). This completely undermines the already very thin economic case for wind.  DECC has argued about the accuracy of the REF figures, but des not dispute that output from wind farms declines significantly over time.

Beyond that there is masses of stuff on my blog www.rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/.  Just put “wind” in the search box!

Both these papers are long and technical.  But the good news is that the basic stuff you need, in political and campaigning terms, is in the Executive Summaries — short and accessible.

Any economic case for renewables depends on the assumption that fossil fuel prices can only go up.  But we are seeing a revolution on oil and gas which is likely to stabilise prices in the long-term.  To invest in wind on the basis that oil might get more expensive is to take a huge and irresponsible gamble with our economy.

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31 Responses to Campaigning against wind farms

  1. Neil Craig says:

    A tactic used by American Greens and also to slow the development of Donald Trump’s golfcourse in Aberdeenshire is to see if there is any plant or animal in the area that might be rare.

    A rare plant can be something very similar to a common breed or simply so boring and nondescript that few people have actually bothered to record finding it. For example for Trump it was a local lichen – the threat to this site of special scientific interest upset vast numbers of Greens on a newspaper comment section, but when asked none of them knew why it had got the designation and I doubt if 1:10,000 would have known the lichen had they seen it.

    Sauce for the goose.

  2. Godfrey Bloom, a man who clearly demonstrates the futility of speaking your mind. Let’s hope that at some point UKIP starts to do so effectively on the subject of wind follies at least.

  3. Francis says:

    While agreeing that wind turbines are a grossly expensive and inefficient blot on the landscape. Their use is not because of fears over rising fossil fuel prices but an alternative to using fossil fuels at all. Use of fossil fuels creates pollution plain and simple.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      No – its not about not using fossil fuels at all. There is no other fuel type that meets the UK baseload demand. Wind Turbines are to do with vested interests arising from the CO2 scare….very plain and simple.
      Pollution?….please define clearly

    • Yes. So stop using it yourself…..Pure and simple.

      (You won’t…….So you are no preacher.)

      • Francis says:

        The pollution created by the use of fossil fuels are well known and therefore there is no need to repeat here. As to fenbeagleblog’s comment. I am doing something about moving away from fossil fuels. I have a waste to energy business that produces electricity from that waste. Waste that would otherwise end up in landfill.

      • Hogarth says:

        So, Francis, you cash in on the CAGW scare. I would bet all my worldly possessions that one of the ‘pollutants’ your business mentions in its marketing spiel is CO2. The same CO2 that feeds plants. Man made CO2 emissions have no effect on global temperatures. I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘global warming’ is mentioned in your spiel as well. Do you have a turbine as a watermark on your site to illustrate your greed…sorry, ‘green’ credentials?

        You understand that turbines are near useless yet you claim that they are an ‘alternative’ to fossil fuels? Evidence suggests that the opposite is the case as countries that ‘invest’ in renewables seem to become more reliant on fossil fuels – e.g. Germany.

      • That’s a project to be commended then Francis, and one I approve of, subject to seeing the costs. But you are not trying to pretend that you can replace fossil fuel use by this means are you? And if not, why try to ‘rubbish’ something that is essential for homes, for businesses and for transport? It’s not a requirement of your business to do so, and your business is not going to solve this issue.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Not filling landfill is commendable. Would you explain what part of waste conversion your business is within?

      • Francis says:

        Hi, we carry a full range of solutions from small anearobic digesters for one tonne of organic waste per week. With larger quantities we have a pyrolysis unit that will process mixed household waste and agricultural waste starting at half of tonne per hour. Finally we have a plasma arc plant for larger quantities of mixed waste starting at three tonne per hour. All produce electricity and hot water. We have combined technologies to get a better outcome. The latest being an on site AD plant coupled with a hydrogen fuel cell. All equipment meets and exceeds EU standards and requirements. We carry a full suite of waste to energy equipment. Thanks for the interest and a Happy New Year to all.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Completely fascinating Francis. I know plasma arc systems from certain very large seaborne platforms. I hope its a case of “where there’s muck there’s brass” for you and your business. A necessity indeed. HNY to you

      • bumper says:

        I work for an EFW company. Good scam getting ROC’s payments for burning waste and charging them for the waste. Don’t suppose your plant emits SO2. NOX or any other pollutants???

    • You are right that the (futile) objective is to stop or reduce the use of fossil fuels. But I am right that the economic justification for renewables (such as it is) depends on an assumption of rising fossil fuel prices. That assumption is probably misplaced.

      • Francis says:

        Further to my comments about pollution from the use of fossil fuels, I would like to add the following very brief comments;
        COAL: Coal is the dirtiest energy source. Coal mining destroys the land surrounding the workings. Pollution from coal plants produces dirty air and acid rain while contaminating land and water. The effects of this on humans include childhood asthma, birth defects and respiratory diseases.
        CRUDE OIL: Crude oil toxins can attack one’s body in many ways. These include neurotoxins that can affect the brain. Benzene has been tied to adult leukemia and other cancers. Crude oil is often spilt at sea and this is where much of the pollution is transferred to humans and of course fish which form part of our food chain. When spilt on land the soil is destroyed in a large area surrounding that spill.
        REFINED FUELS: Around one quarter of domestic carbon dioxide comes from transport fuels in the UK. Transportation is the largest single source of air pollution. Many large cities suffer with smog during high traffic. Air pollution in the EU is estimated to cause 406,000 deaths annually.
        Fossil fuels have served us well for hundreds of years but their dramatically increased use comes with a penalty. So we must look for ways to wean ourselves off fossil fuels or the situation can only get worse. This can’t happen overnight but we must work towards that goal.

  4. Charles Wardrop says:

    That pollution is trivial.

    • Francis says:

      No pollution is trivial. It is not just the use of fossil fuels that causes pollution but also the extraction and delivery too.

      • Not a very sensible statement, Francis. If I happen to drop 0.01 cc of oil on the road, that’s pollution. It’s also trivial. Virtually all industrial activity produces some pollution (and extraction of rare earths for wind turbines is causing massive pollution in China). There is also the point that we need to understand what constitutes pollution. SOX and NOX are pollution. CO2 is not. It is a harmless, invisible naturally-occurring trace gas in the atmosphere which is essential to human life and plant growth — indeed essential to all life on the planet.

      • catalanbrian says:

        I agree with you, Francis. Mr Helmer, below, comments that him dropping a small amount of oil on the road is trivial. Yes just the one drop of oil may, in isolation, be trivial but this is only a half truth, as it is the aggregate amount that is not trivial. One cigarette packet thrown into your garden, Roger Helmer may be considered trivial but I am sure that you would agree that if 100 people do this you would not agree that it is trivial.

      • Francis says:

        Hi, many thanks for the supportive comments. I shall reply at length to Mr Helmer and as this is such an important topic I will take a little time to formulate my response.

  5. Sean O'Hare says:

    Roger, Have UKIP published a guide on how to fight solar farms? There are plans to build a lot of them in my neck of the woods.

  6. Anyoldiron says:

    THE ALIENS HAVE LANDED.

    Imposing in there hundreds,
    Such an army on display,
    Those alien grey metal monsters
    I saw while on my way.
    Aliens on our shores have landed,
    So tall, backs straight and true,
    At night they watch through flashing eyes
    Of red, at me and you.

    Some have scaled the mountains,
    Others near schools and homes,
    Of one thing I am certain,
    Those aliens have no souls.
    No “whispering” from their ranks at all,
    An unearthly sound they make,
    It envelops each and everyone,
    No more can humans take.

    Three giant arms revolving,
    Enveloping all around,
    They’re here to ‘save the planet’,
    The biggest “con” I have found.
    Such hideous tall grey monsters,
    Invade green and pleasant lands,
    To stay for generations,
    Unless the people make a stand.

    These aliens feed on power and wind,
    Without either, they will die,
    They’re NOT environmental friendly,
    They’re for profit, (at a cost), that’s WHY.

  7. cornwallwindwatch says:

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch and commented:
    Guide for campaigners. Thank you UKIP. The only party with a sensible energy policy.

  8. Pete Hodge says:

    Roger, I agree totally with the arguments on wind farms, but what i the problem with solar panels or ‘farms?’

    • Sean O'Hare says:

      They are:
      a) ugly
      b) taking up agricultural land.
      c) very inefficient.
      d) non-productive in dull weather.
      e) not cost effective because degrade quickly.
      f) using up rare earth minerals.
      g) polluting China, because of mining for e).

    • Just remove the subsidy fuel poverty creating wealth redistribution scheme that fuels them, and let’s see if anyone still want’s to build them.

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