Communities at war over wind farms
I wholeheartedly agree with Kim Terry (Letters, 28 August): the selfish attitude of so many Scots when it comes to receiving “community benefit” from wind farm developers is a disgrace.
Our small village of Uplawmoor in East Renfrewshire will shortly be overshadowed by four 110-metre (120-yard) turbines, one of which will be owned by another community, Neilston, whose residents will hardly be aware of the wind farm but who will benefit from the proceeds (£10 million over 25 years) while the developers, Carbon Free Developments, will rake in three times that amount.
Uplawmoor will derive no benefit whatsoever, just years of noise, adverse visual effects and depleted house prices.
Some may say Uplawmoor would be wise to jump on the “windy” bandwagon, like so many others, and have a community turbine of its own, and that may be a serious consideration for some residents in the heart of the village, who won’t be affected.
But do these people ever consider all the outlying properties that will be closest to these turbines and have uninterrupted views along with surround-sound effects 24/7? No, of course they don’t care; as long as their children have a new swing in the play park or the local school gets a new computer, they are happy.
They never consider the sacrificial folk “up on the hill”, who are just as much part of the community as they are but whose houses will be rendered worthless and whose lives and health will be adversely affected for many years to come; for those of us in our fifties or older, possibly for the rest of our lives.
Community benefit is never directed to those most affected by a wind farm development, just those who are most greedy.
It is no wonder rural communities throughout the country are at war, with neighbours, friends and even families in direct conflict.
Kim Terry excellently explains the consequences of the wind farm policy on the ground and the danger of splitting communities over so-called community benefit where some who don’t care about countryside gain while others suffer personally.
It is also the land owners of this beautiful country, whose families have looked after our land for generations, who have been changed by the government’s wind farm policy.
It used to be that they saw themselves as custodians, protecting our beautiful landscape for locals and tourists. It is different now.
For example, our area saw a five-year wind farm fight to uphold the local plan and protect the Pentland Hills, only to win and find another landowner, two miles away, put in another application.
The locals, having won that second battle, had barely a few months’ respite when the original landowner proposed another wind farm with 12 turbines, 105 metres (115 yards) high, less than three miles from the first.
Respect for local government has also changed, firstly by the landowner ignoring the local plan and trying his luck at great expense to the council taxpayers.
Secondly, if the application is thrown out, it often happens that one government reporter can overrule the decision made by local planning officers and councillors. The most recent example was in Dumfries and Galloway, once a gem of Scotland and now rapidly becoming a wind farm landscape.
A WWF-UK study found walking in the countryside is Britain’s best loved pastime. We must be very grateful for those landowners with integrity who are giving up easy money, directed by the government from our electricity bills, to preserve their bit of countryside for us. If only there were more.
Professor Christopher Harvie (Letters, 25 August) claims that without investment in renewable energy the next energy crisis could “overwhelm us”.
However, as a historian, he should recognise that peak energy worriers have always been with us. Responding to the Elizabethan “peak wood” crisis, Arthur Standish proposed that “there may be as much timber raised as will maintain the kingdom for all uses forever”.
Fortunately, Standish was ignored since the great transition from wood to coal was beginning, paving the way for the industrial revolution. The history of energy production demonstrates clear transitions to fuels of greater energy density and lower carbon intensity, from wood to coal, then oil, methane and nuclear.
Contrary to Prof Harvie’s claim, the next energy revolution will likely not be diffuse renewable energy but energy-dense methane, which is set to surpass oil as the global fuel of choice.
The consequences of such muddled thinking on energy can be seen in Niall Stuart’s boast (Letters, 23 August) that onshore wind produced more than 7 TW-h (terrawatt-hour) of energy in 2011 and helps support 11,000 jobs.
However, due to its diffuse nature, wind is inherently expensive. Assuming renewable obligation costs of £45 a MW-h (megawatt hour), onshore wind extracts more than £300m a year from the economy, subsidising each job at over £25,000, comparable to the median wage. This is hardly the route to national prosperity.
(Prof) Colin R McInnes
Williamwood Park West
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east