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Windfarms like graffiti

With no let-up in the national press coverage of the windfarm debate, it seems that there is a movement away from the emotive issues which the pro-lobby dismiss as nimbyism.

Increasingly we read articles which cast serious doubt over the efficiency and cost effectiveness of wind power as a major player in the energy industry.

As the rose-coloured tint wears off and the cold light of day sharpens the perceptions, we are seeing a recognition that wind power is not the panacea that it has been made out to be. The financial handouts on offer amount to little more than bribes aimed at dividing and conquering local communities and easing the passage of planning applications. These are now increasingly under scrutiny as government subsidies are reduced and the number of rejected planning applications increases.

Nevertheless, the aesthetic and environmental issues still need to be addressed on a broad front rather than on a “my place of sanctuary versus yours” basis. Windfarms are in danger of becoming industrial archeology even before they are fully commissioned.

Saturday’s article in The Press and Journal saw Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson liken windfarms to expensive modern-day national follies with little or no practical benefits to the environment and without the aesthetic merit of our more famous 19th century follies.

This made me wonder if another simile could be applied just as effectively. Windfarms could perhaps be compared to graffiti and in particular to the Banksy graffiti that dominates some urban settings. Large, modern and in your face they are loved by some, tolerated by many and disliked by the silent majority.

They make large sums of money for a few but at what cost to the environment and what return to the community as a whole? In particular, those who are prepared to grasp the windfall and accommodate these things on their land are in danger of letting the tail wag the dog.

In the case of Banksy graffiti, property value has been boosted and sales of “graffiti with house attached” are not uncommon. I mean no disrespect to Banksy or indeed to the windfarm supporters. Both are undoubtedly well intentioned, but what seems impressive at the time can become no more than an eyesore.

To his credit, Banksy hints that you can fool some of the people all of the time as he acknowledges the hysteria that has inflated the value of his works at auction.

Follies, vandalism or rural graffiti, it matters not. What does matter is that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

We must see past the gloss, the spin, the rhetoric and the unsubstantiated promises and press for our voice to be not only heard, but listened to by the Scottish government in the hope that they will treat us with more respect and consideration than our own council has done.

Mike Bennett