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A blot on the landscape… and they are useless too

I was recently invited to address a local branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. Being a lunchtime event, I was expecting no more than a dozen stalwarts, but there were around 40 souls there to hang on my every word.

The lunch was pretty good too – one of perks of doing this job. As is usual with this sort of thing, after the main event a healthy discussion commenced at the bar – and the key topic was wind turbines.

I’ve not given the subject an airing in this column because, being a supporter of most things green, I felt it a bit hypocritical as I don’t particularly like them.

But having spoken to my new friends at the CPRW and done a bit of research, I feel I can throw off the shackles.

I’m a man of simple pleasures and I never tire of the view of the Vale of Clwyd and beyond to Snowdonia as you come around the Clwyd Gate.

Or at least I didn’t until they erected those monstrosities on the horizon. Huge, ugly monoliths that are a blight on our beautiful countryside.

It’s like letting Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen loose in a precious stately home and allowing him to put up orange and purple striped wallpaper and paint the outside fluorescent green.

I could bang on for reams about how out of place they are, but there is an even better argument for getting rid of them.

They are useless.

If it’s too windy or, more obviously, if there’s no wind at all, they don’t work.

They don’t replace any electricity production capacity because conventional power stations have to be retained as back-up for when the turbines at not working (which appears to be most of the time).

I have no objection to them being erected out at sea where they are, in any case, a third more efficient.

True, some coastal dwellers complain they spoil their view of the sea. Well, if I can paraphrase the song, what do you see when you look out to sea? The sea! Hardly a panoramic heart-stopper is it?

So what other alternatives are available? The UK has no shortage of tidal estuaries where waves and the tide can be harnessed with minimal disruption to wildlife or aesthetics.

What’s more, you’re not dependent on the weather – the tide comes in and out twice a day. An inexhaustible source of power.

No, I’m sorry, wind turbines polluting our areas of natural beauty are a non-carbon footprint too far.

Just a cautionary note to end with. You may have heard the rumblings from within the corridors of power about the re-introduction of business tax on agricultural land (not applicable since 1929).

The notion has been dug up afresh by Whitehall mandarins who advise the Exchequer. If farmland was taxed at just £10 an acre, it would provide a sum any chancellor would find hard to resist.

This at a time when summer grazing is fetching upwards of £140 an acre and land to buy fast approaching building plot prices.

So when our representatives come to argue the case against the tax, I worry we won’t have a leg to stand on.

And don’t run away with the idea that who you vote for will make an iota of difference, because it won’t: in this country the farming vote doesn’t affect the outcome of general elections one way or the other.

by Our Correspondent, Daily Post


3 May 2007