Dr John Etherington (Letters, 1 July) shows the fundamental flaw in wind power – the need for back-up from fossil fuel. In my opinion this policy is being forced through with many sleights of hand.
As recently reported, the Business Secretary, John Hutton, has published a poll saying 64 per cent of people would be happy to live within three miles of turbines. What a strange figure to choose. If three miles from a house was the recommended distance from a turbine in Britain, I suspect none would be able to be built.
Having spent three years fighting a wind farm with the nearest house just over half a mile away and 59 properties a mile and quarter away, we were in no way the worst case. In Scottish planning law, a mile and a quarter (2km) is the recommended distance from towns and villages, not even individual houses.
The Scottish Government commissioned research which showed tourists a view from a hotel with and without turbines. 63 per cent did not want to see turbines from their bedroom window. Even so, the report concluded that a 50 per cent increase in tourism was compatible with wind power – the reasoning being that tourists who objected to turbines would go to areas without them.
With 4,000 more turbines onshore there will be nowhere else to go.
Claims by Scottish Renewables that wind farms built on peat land repay lost carbon within three years (your report, 1 July) are misleading. A report by the Macaulay Institute, on which the industry body bases its opinions, is contradicted by a 2006 Renewable Energy Foundation study, which calculated that a 2MW turbine built on peat moorland 1m deep would take 8.2 years to pay back its carbon cost. The figure for the “high scenario” is a whopping 16 years of a wind farm’s estimated 25-year lifespan.
The Macaulay study also looks only at the loss of carbon from building turbines on peat land and ignores the carbon loss from their construction and the vast amounts of concrete needed for their bases. Nor is there any analysis of the potentially huge carbon loss that occurs when peat land is drained for construction.
Add up all these factors and the “carbon debt” of a wind farm built on peat land could end up cancelling out any carbon saving. It is folly to build wind farms on peat land – which stores three times as much carbon as tropical rainforests – until more thorough research is carried out into whether they will actually help tackle climate change in the first place.
Climate change officer, John Muir Trust
It is hard to believe SNP ministers can champion a misguided Labour energy policy that pays landowners who put turbines on their land (your report, 27 June) while ignoring the plight of crofters, farming tenants and rural residents who are suffering the consequences of “seen-to-be-green” politics and greed while the taxpayer picks up the tab yet again.
(MRS) JANE BREWSTER
2 July 2008
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