Celia Hobbs: The community benefit of wind farms is still up in the air

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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IN THE future, historians will puzzle how landscapes, revered for generations, were destroyed by 100-metre-plus machines all over the country.

Perhaps it is because humans have a survival instinct which means it is safer to act en masse. It is dangerous to be out on a limb, jeopardising jobs and friends. Public relations for the wind industry has been magnificent in persuading conformists it is all right to erect machines in once valued landscapes.

Picture: Ian Rutherford

Picture: Ian Rutherford

There have been areas where the normal reaction for landscape preservation has prevailed. For example, the Auchencorth wind farm proposal had 27 representations for and 2,400 against. The proposal was defeated. The same landowner is proposing a wind farm under three miles away at Mount Lothian. It is a mystery to us, who backed up Midlothian Council at the Auchencorth public inquiry, how the developer expects to get this new one through.

It now seems clearer. Are they hoping to use public relations? There has been a recent phone poll in the area with yes/no answers around the wind farm. One asks if communities benefit from wind farms. As communities have received “community benefit”, a quick response would be yes. But think how that could be used. If locals read, say, 90 per cent of residents closest to the turbines think their community will benefit from the wind farm, others further away might think they have no right to object. Result!

The reality is that millions of pounds, which the wind industry should have paid in compensation to individual property owners, has been reduced to paltry sums paid out to communities. Tim Yeo says communities should be bribed to accept wind farms. I believe the landscape belongs to all and shouldn’t be traded.

Another triumph for the PR industry was claiming it was a myth that wind farms reduce property prices. Now a couple have won reduced council tax due to the blight on their property from a wind farm. It is common sense that properties would be less valuable with a machine the height of St Paul’s Cathedral whirling nearby than a property in open countryside. The moral is: think for yourself.

• Celia Hobbs is a member of Penicuik Environment Protection Association.