Andrew Motion, new President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has admitted that energy bills will have to go up if we want to stop destruction of the countryside.
The former poet laureate said that climate change is the greatest risk the planet faces.
Therefore conservationists must support plans to reduce carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels by switching to renewables.
However renewables also have an impact on the countryside because of the aesthetic impact of technologies like wind turbines and solar panels. Also wind and solar often have to be far away from the population , meaning more more power lines and pylons are required.
Mr Motion said the only solution is to pay more to have the pylons buried underground and to put the turbines offshore.
However this will cost more and that will end up being passed onto the consumer. Already gas and electricity bills are at a near highs of £1,300 a year per household.
“If you want to keep things as they are then probably you will have to pay a bit more for it,” he said.
There are currently public consultations ongoing into 300 miles of new power lines across England, many of which are in precious landscape and hotly contested, for example planned pylons across the Stour valley in North Essex where Thomas Gainsborough once painted.
It is estimated that burying cables underground will cost ten time as much as putting up overhead lines. Also, putting wind turbines out at sea is much more costly.
But Mr Motion argued it will be worth it. He also said communities should own shares in wind farms in order to encourage them to allow development in their area.
“Let’s decide what we value most. If you think something is important then you have to chip in and everybody has to play their part. It is bad news on your bill but good news if you own it.”
Controversially, Mr Motion said nuclear power may also be an option for keeping the lights on while protecting the countryside.
“I never thought I would say it but we have to live in a mixed energy economy and nuclear is part of this.”
In a new direction for the CPRE, Mr Motion promised to bring in more young people and fight the climate change sceptics head on.
“I do not accept that this diversity of opinion should be reason for denying the fact of [climate] change. Or for slackening the pace of an international response.
“I have no doubt that I shall be banging this drum again, in the months and years to come.”
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