Wind turbines ‘a waste of space’ says MEP

Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, who described Stevenson as 'a modern day Don Quixote, attacking windmills'
Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, who described Stevenson as 'a modern day Don Quixote, attacking windmills'
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MEP Struan Stevenson will tell a conference tomorrow that wind farms are a “waste of space” that “desecrate the landscape and make people’s lives a misery”.

In a hard-hitting keynote address to the National Windfarm Conference in Ayr, Conservative MEP Mr Stevenson will attack the use of wind farms to generate power in Scotland.

He will describe the SNP’s veto on nuclear power as “sheer madness”, label the target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewables by 2020 as “ludicrous” and argue that rich landowners are raking in profits from wind farms at the expense of consumers.

Mr Stevenson, who is chairman of the climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development intergroup at the European Parliament, will describe a “renewable wind blitzkrieg invading our country with industrial structures of concrete and steel, all for a small, intermittent trickle of electricity at vast cost to the consumer and no benefit to the environment”.

Environmental groups and trade body Scottish Renewables rejected the views put forward in Mr Stevenson’s speech, seen ahead of the conference by The Scotsman.

The head of Friends of the Earth Scotland described him as “like a modern day Don Quixote, attacking windmills” and said his arguments were “inconsistent and biased”.

However, other groups, including the John Muir Trust and Ramblers Scotland, raised their own concerns about wind farms in Scotland ahead of tomorrow’s conference.

The event, organised by Communities Against Turbines Scotland, is being billed as the country’s first national wind farm conference, and aims to “raise public awareness on the real issues and costs”.

In his speech, Mr Stevenson will say: “Wind farms don’t work. They produce a trickle of electricity at vast cost to the consumer. They desecrate the landscape and make people’s lives a misery. And they don’t even cut carbon emissions. They are literally a waste of space.”

He will go on to compare wind turbines with “architectural follies like The National Monument on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, or McCaig’s Tower in Oban”.

He will argue that in order to meet the UK and Scottish green energy targets, 60,000 turbines will be needed in the UK, costing £200 billion.

He will add: “The big power companies are no longer farming wind, they are farming subsidies, and the poor consumers will have to foot the bill.

“Gas and electricity prices are surging, jobs are being lost, more and more people are being forced into fuel poverty and we are not even denting our carbon emission targets.”

He will say that he believes the solution is to embrace nuclear power, to boost the energy efficiency of homes and to invest more into developing hydrogen power.

Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Struan Stevenson is like a modern day Don Quixote, attacking windmills in his own mad-but-entertaining way. His arguments are inconsistent and biased, and he is as full of wind and bluster as the Scottish weather that could supply a large proportion of our electricity in the near future as part of a mixed portfolio of renewables.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said Mr Stevenson was making himself “increasingly absurd” and said his arguments were “riddled with factual inaccuracies”.

“To say renewable energy doesn’t reduce carbon emissions flies in the face of basic engineering,” he added.

And WWF Scotland’s head of policy, Dr Dan Barlow, said: “The legacy of Struan Stevenson’s proposals would be missed climate targets, a pile of toxic nuclear waste, energy bills at the mercy of volatile global gas prices and thousands of lost green job opportunities.”

Responding to points made by Mr Stevenson, Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing accused him of not even being able to get the facts right about his own party’s plans for nuclear power.

Dave Morris, director of Ramblers Scotland, said he believes all subsidies for onshore wind farms should be scrapped and the money ploughed into offshore wind, wave and tidal projects.

And Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust, said: “There is growing unease about national energy policy.

“Figures from Scottish Natural Heritage show the amount of land in Scotland unaffected by the visual impact of development has fallen dramatically, from 41 per cent in 2002 to 28 per cent in 2009. The dominant factor in this decline is wind developments.”