The Prince of Wales has revealed his support of wind-powered energy for the first time, endorsing the wider use of wind turbines.
In a new film highlighting his environmental work, Prince Charles spoke of supporting “the commitment to working with nature’s freely-given forms and clean energy” and hailed Germany’s enthusiastic approach to wind-powered energy.
In Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, which is narrated by Prince Charles, he spoke of the need to “end our dependence on fossil fuel” and embrace renewable energy sources – a declaration apparently putting him at odds with his father, who described onshore windfarms as “absolutely useless”.
During the film’s opening sequence, the Prince said: “Time is running out – this is a call to action…Harmony offers a way of seeing the world that could lead to, in very practical ways, much more sustainable behaviour in a wide range of important areas.” His words were accompanied by shot of a wind-turbine in a meadow.
In another scene illustrated with images of wind turbines in the German town of Trendelberg, which has pioneered their use and is entirely powered by renewable energy sources, the Prince paid tribute to Germany for “taking the lead” in developing wind turbine technology.
He said: “I recently flew over the German countryside where ancient buildings and castles now merge into a new landscape dotted with solar panels and wind turbines. I certainly support the commitment to working with nature’s freely-given forms and clean energy.”
The film also features an interview with Mike Guess, a former steelworker at the Redcar plant in Middlesbrough, which reopened earlier this month to begin steel production to support the UK’s wind turbine manufacturing industry.
Mr Guess spoke of being hopeful of finding new employment in the industry: “There’s talk about wind farms, talk about making the windmills and the blades – that might be an emerging technology.”
The Prince then said: “With the global economy in crisis, there is a tremendous need and an opportunity to think about how we can protect the natural world and protect jobs.” He added: “I confess I am not a fan of onshore wind farms because of their intrusion on the landscape. It would be better if they were placed offshore.”
The Prince had previously been thought to be deeply opposed to wind turbines and was reported to have viewed them as “a horrendous blot on the landscape”.
His enthusiasm for wind-power is in contrast with the Duke of Edinburgh, who recently described wind turbines as “absolutely useless”, putting him at odds with the Government’s policy to significantly increase the amount of electricity generated by wind turbines. The Duke also criticised the industry’s reliance on subsidies from electricity customers, and claimed that wind farms would “never work”.
The Crown Estate, which from next year will provide income to all of the Royal Family except Prince Charles, is to benefit financially from windfarms with a major expansion of offshore wind, as it owns the seabed to the edge of Britain’s territorial waters, and is also allowing onshore turbines on land it owns. Royals have no say in how it operates.
The film premiered last night at the first Sundance London film festival at the O2 Arena, with introductions by the Prince and the actor Robert Redford, a keen environmentalist and the founder of the original Sundance festival in Utah.
Redford paid tribute to the Prince’s work, describing it as “ahead of the curve” and “profoundly important”.
He said: “The Prince of Wales and I share a dedication to preserving the environment and to identifying innovative and yet realistic ways to do so. This important film showcases his diligence, passion and achievement which include his efforts to amplify the work of social innovators on the front lines of change the world over.”
The Prince addressed a range of other environmental issues in the film, including the destruction of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada, the benefits of organic farming and the impact of globalisation on parts of rural India, where a growing number of farmers are alleged to be committing suicide after losing their businesses to the spread of industrial farming.
The Prince is also filmed inspecting his cattle with Prince William on his organic Duchy Home Farm in Gloucestershire. Prince Charles said that the thought of becoming a grandfather was his prime motivation for his environmental work.
He said: “I don’t want my grandchildren, or yours, to come along and say ‘why didn’t you do something? You knew what the problem was.’ That is what I have really worried about and what motivates me.”
The Prince, who has been an outspoken critic of modern architecture and recently faced criticism for his intervention over plans for a modern housing scheme on the former Chelsea Barracks site in London, defended his actions in the film.
He said: “I have expressed concerns about building and architecture. This has often been seen as controversial. But I have done so to emphasise that the most important elements in the thinking behind any successful building or town or city is that they should help create communities, rather than fragment them.”
Harmony was directed by the Oscar-nominated American film-maker, Stuart Sender. He said: “The Prince was intimately involved in every scene of the film and he put enormous care and love into the project.”
Mr Sender said that he was in discussions with distributors in America and the UK for the film’s general release. The Prince is also believed to be keen for the film to be used as an educational tool in schools.
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