I read with interest the letters and articles over the last few weeks discussing the impact of the Aultmore Wind Farm on the local environment. What I find hard to come terms with is the constant use of those now often-spoken words, “This will help slow down global climate change”.
I beg to differ on this point, and I would go as far as to say that all the world’s wind farms will have hardly any impact on halting the effects of global warming.
It is very interesting to note that the governments, main and devolved, of this fair land of ours have made great issue about climate change, but at the same time subscribe fully to the concept of world trade. I work for an air freighting company that transports goods from the Far East into the UK and Europe.
A lot of these goods end up on the shelves of stores such as Tesco or Asda, and how we love the cheap electronic goods, mostly made in Taiwan, or the cheap clothes often made in China or India. These goods reach this country not down the old Silk Road by camel, but by air or sea.
The fuel burn of a 747 freighter bringing 100 metric tonnes (MT) of freight from Shanghai to the UK via Hong Kong is on average 200MT, which equates to 160,000 litres or 35,400 gallons in old money. Dozens of flights a day come into the UK and Europe.
If you add to this the real villains of transport pollution, the shipping industry, then you begin to realise that a few wind turbines scattered around the countryside will make no difference whatsoever.
The ‘Emma Maersk’, a 55,390NT container ship which cruises at approximately 24 knots, burns from 300 to 350 MT per day. This equates to 62,000 gallons of marine diesel, one of the most pollutant carbon fuels in use today.
Marine diesel is a low-grade fuel which is produced as a by-product at the residual end of crude oil production. It contains components of crude oil unusable in the production of normal petrol or diesel. During the combustion of this fuel, large quantities of toxic substances pass into the atmosphere.
Two of the worst pollutants are sulphur (SO2) and nitric oxides (N0x). SO2 aggravates respiratory illness, and is one of the causes of acid rain, and Nox reacts with hydro carbons under the influence of sunlight to produce ozone, and this leads to smog and once again causes breathing problems in humans. It also damages flora.
Global shipping traffic is responsible for 2% of all global CO2 emissions, equivalent to that produced by the UK, 7% of all SO2, and 11-12% of all Nox emissions. If you add this to what I see when I visit China, then you begin to realise that to tackle the problem of air pollution, which appears to be leading to climate change, then the whole way in which the world conducts its business must change.
It baffles me that the same MPs who put windmills on their roofs and cycle to that political asylum called the House of Commons in the cause of a greener planet are the same people who have overseen the demise of this nation’s manufacturing base and locked us irrevocably into the global trading system, without which we would find it almost impossible to survive.
Just as an aside, many goods which show a ‘Made in UK’ label often have components that are made in the Far East, especially electronic goods. ‘Made in the UK’ often means ‘assembled in the UK’.
When you look at the global warming problem as a whole, you realise that it is almost impossible to solve without a radical change in the way the world conducts its business. If building wind farms made even .05% difference, then I would say go ahead, but that is not the case. In fact, some argue that the pollutants generated, and the energy used in their manufacture, is greater than any good they will achieve in terms of climate change throughout their working life.
Before I started to pollute the upper atmosphere in my jumbo jet full of T-shirts, often worn by the eco-warriors of this country, I trained as an electrical engineer, specialising in power distribution, and I know one thing: any right-minded electrical engineer would laugh out of court the concept of wind power replacing carbon fuels or nuclear power as a source of reliable electrical energy needed to meet the demands we now put on the National Grid.
The damage these eyesores do to the wonderful countryside of Moray far outweighs any impact they will have on arresting the onset of global warming. For that reason alone, planning permission should be refused by the Moray Council.
In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that the Moray Council should concentrate on trying to save itself from the mauling it usually receives from Audit Scotland, due to its poor overall performance, and instead of trying to save the planet, they should direct their energies to saving the public conveniences of our local towns. – Yours etc,
W. Speight, Greywalls Cottage, Iowa Place, Forres
9 November 2007
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