With marketing resources beyond the dreams of many corporations, let alone community groups, Greenpeace has run several populist campaigns over the years supporting wind-driven power generation.
The political alliance between ‘big energy’ and eco-lobby groups is neither new nor secret. The 2002 marketing deal between Greenpeace and nuclear and coal-firing giant RWE, for example, was controversial but at least open.
The activities revealed here are less public but add an unsavoury dimension to the group’s campaigns.
• On its own behalf or in alliance with leading members, Greenpeace has campaigned to win planning consent for wind-power projects even when these pose a serious risk to protected species and should not proceed.
• At Stacain in Argyll, it presented the developer’s case on a web site without reporting that the scheme would put a population of golden eagles at considerable risk. In what capacity is unclear but its members campaigned locally in a way that suggested wide public support for the scheme. It was consented and the eagles are now at risk.
• It did the same at Scarweather Sands (South Wales) except that here it at least played its huckster role openly and it was the risk to harbour porpoises that it failed to publicise. The group says it never benefits financially from its campaigns. This is not disputed but it is shown that supporters of a Greenpeace campaign vehicle, Yes2wind, have benefitted financially from campaigning for developers.
They may be at the far end of the renewables trough but feed from it they do.
The report reveals how a prominent Greenpeace member runs a company which conducts ‘street level campaigns’ for developers in a way that makes them appear as a Greenpeace activity or at least Greenpeace sanctioned.
It describes how, when Greenpeace and RWE npower quietly parted ways, a different group, the Sustainable Energy Alliance, moved into the gap and how Npower recently admitted to paying it ‘expenses’ to campaign on npower’s behalf.
It suggests that wind-power developers are turning almost as a matter of routine to Greenpeace and other activists for support in forcing through controversial proposals over the heads of those most impacted by them and against the environmental evidence.
Judging by their publicity material, the activists are motivated by the perceived need for an unbridled expansion of wind power to provide what on the one hand they (wrongly) claim is an alternative to nuclear-generated power and on the other its ability to halt or even reverse current changes in climate.
Their avowed aim is to undermine those who legitimately object to development proposals on the clearly-defined grounds that planning law allows.
The conduct reported here reveals an almost colonial contempt for those whose lives will be impacted, often severely, by the developments in question and for those with a passion for, and properly motivated concerns about, areas they seek to defend against industrialisation.
Download original document: “Strange Bedfellows: Big energy, cash and the green lobby”
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