Recent correspondence on the subject of wind turbines has seen much in the way of opinion and little in the way of context or fact.
The context for decisions on wind energy is the need to address the onward march of climate change. On that score it does seem reasonable to base decisions on the opinion of climate experts in the form of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Its views on the man-made causes of climate change are shared by 97 per cent of climate experts with the relative expertise of the unconvinced 3 per cent “substantially below” that of the huge majority (“Expert credibility in climate change” – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 24 June, 2010).
The fact that the causes of climate change are not visible to the naked eye does not make climate change a less real ongoing threat to our national and international, “wild” and tamed, environment; an existential risk for today’s children and tomorrow’s generations.
We have turbines as part of our strategy to lower dangerous emissions; they stand on a tiny proportion of our land and replace other sources of energy which have their own deleterious impacts.
Some people like the look of turbines and others don’t. When polled, 62 per cent of Scots were generally supportive of large-scale wind projects in their local council area. The support for shale gas was 24 per cent and 32 per cent for nuclear. Support for renewables in general, as of March 2013, stands at 82 per cent.
I suspect for most of us it is not easy to separate a response to turbines from their function. I like turbines, not just because I like the look of them, but also because they represent a source of energy that does not pollute in the way other energy sources do.
Of course, wind farms should be subject to appropriate planning controls.
The noisily expressed predilections of those reluctant to see (literally and metaphorically) the cost of the energy they consume, and of those unwilling to play their part in providing solutions to big problems they have helped create should be treated with some caution.
Scotland has a good ongoing story to tell on renewables. Economically, we have jobs and wealth created; ethically, we have shown leadership in addressing climate change (and being fair to those elsewhere badly affected by our past and current emissions).
There have been huge increases in the deployment of turbines throughout the world and we are among the leaders in that deployment.
It would be possible, but a shame for us and our land, to snatch an ethical, economic and environmental defeat from the jaws of victory. Scotland should continue to lead.