Jane Devine: Instead of moaning about windfarms, we should accept them
THE debate about wind farms in Scotland is heating up, with the SNP Government asking councils to identify more sites for wind farm development (Scotsman, 23 June).
As with most high-profile and contentious issues, the facts rarely play a part in the arguments about wind farms. Each side, on each aspect of the debate, tends to launch into a subjective diatribe whenever the issue is raised. No matter whether it’s the visual impact, the environmental impact, the noise, wind farms versus coal, electric, gas or nuclear power, the facts are pushed aside to make way for passionate exchanges.
There are some facts we can be sure of though: wind farms are here, they are here to stay and there are going to be a lot more of them.
Isn’t that a good thing? Wind farms are amazing additions to our landscape and the future of our economy: their statuesque beauty, their soothing motion, the fact that they take something as natural and powerful and freely available as wind and create something as fundamental to each of our lives as electricity. They should be celebrated. But not everyone agrees.
A recent survey (8 May, 2012) by Pagoda PR found that 28 per cent of people are concerned about the noise from wind farms. While pro-wind farm organisations would claim that the noise argument is overstated, wouldn’t people rather have the reassuring whir to remind them of the natural energy force moving the turbine’s blades than the eerie silence of a nuclear power station? Because, let’s face it, we need to get power from somewhere.
That’s why many of the high-profile arguments against wind farms are so flawed: they ignore the fact that they are necessary in order to provide us all with a clean, sustainable way of generating the power we all depend on.
Then there is the oft-cited “visual impact” issue: this has a high profile in the public debate, yet the survey found that it is an issue for only one in ten people. We are kidding ourselves if we think they will spoil our “natural landscape”, a landscape teaming with evidence human impact: roads, fences, fields, pylons.
As novelist and journalist Will Self has pointed out “the vista the wind turbine revolves within, whether it be the fens of East Anglia or the bens of the Scots Highlands, is a man-made one”.
The fact is, many of the arguments put forward by the public against wind farms boil down to one thing: not in my backyard.
But we can’t justifiably expect other people to put up with things we all need but that some of us won’t tolerate. Wind farms are necessary and they are here to stay: love them or learn to.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East