The spate of wind farm applications in north Northumberland opens up some issues much darker than the scarring of our countryside by visual and noise pollution. Key to this is the Government’s lack of a coherent energy renewal strategy.
Moreover, the applicants themselves could do with deep scrutiny by the naïve environmentalists who hold the kneejerk notion that all renewable energy is a good thing.
Centuries of industrial development have taught us that every innovation has its price, therefore wind power is no exception. The corporate players in the wind farm game are owned by companies who also operate nuclear reactors. The smaller wind farm buccaneers most frequently establish a wind farm and sell it on to one of the large companies.
The ludicrous system of subsidy means a large business operating conventional plants would purchase renewable obligation certificates, then buy the electricity generated by its wind farm holding, thus making sure the money stays in-house.
Wind farm builders and operators also receive a fuel subsidy. Most Greens would be distinctly unhappy to realise that they were subsidising the nuclear power industry in this way.
Wind farms have a life of 25 years maximum, at the end of which they are decommissioned. Not one operator has explained whether they will remove the concrete base and restore the land used to its original condition. Nobody in Government has yet decided whether land which has been used for a wind farm will continue to be designated as a brownfield site and to what purposes that site may next be put.
The parameters of a planning application prevent the underlying issues of the renewable energy debate from being discussed. The air might be free, but wind certainly has a price.
SANDIE REED, Whitsome, Berwickshire, Scotland
12 April 2008
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