The long-awaited Maer Hills wind turbines application has arrived at Newcastle Borough Council just as another wind power planning decision is expected, causing great public concern and opposition in nearby Knighton and Woore.
These controversial and highly visible proposed turbines are possibly, if permitted, just the first of some 3,500 which the Government this very week has announced as part of its national ‘green energy’ plans.
While no-one doubts there is an urgent need to move away from fossil fuel reliance and develop alternative energy sources, the economic and environmental case against land-based wind power is compelling.
The output of sustainable energy from sites such as Maer Hills and Knighton, with no more than seven turbines, will be negligible, and at enormous cost to the environment and community. And the fact that national energy policy is now planning for offshore wind capacity to be increased 30-fold, to produce a total of 31,000 megawatts a year by 2020, clearly undermines the two local schemes’ commercial viability. Britain is blessed with excellent offshore wind capacity and potential, not to mention the world’s greatest tidal power resource, with minimal visual and environmental impact and real scope for large wind farms at sensible economies of scale and significant electricity production levels.
Some will advocate a scatter-gun approach to green energy investment as oil prices soar. If they prevail, expect a rash of turbines soaring to 350ft on the rolling hills of North Staffordshire.
ASHLEY HOWELLS Ashley Heath
23 June 2008