CPRE Devon fully supports renewable energy that is efficient, contributes to keeping the lights on, reduces carbon emissions and does not despoil the countryside in the process. The reality has proved to be very different. Both landowners and farmers understandably see an opportunity to farm the lavish government subsidies that are paid for the generation of renewables, and who can blame them?
In this dash for subsidies we have faced a tsunami of planning applications, for both wind turbines and solar panels, that threatens to overwhelm local planning authorities. It has certainly produced a storm of help requests to CPRE Devon from worried citizens who suddenly find their homes threatened by wind turbine blight or their tourist businesses jeopardised by huge changes to the pristine landscape on which they depend.
CPRE Devon’s view has always been to assess each planning application on its merits. We are not a Nimby organisation and we have made no comment either way on numerous small applications that clearly have a real benefit to the farmer or home owner. We do challenge large scale wind farms or huge turbine applications which threaten the landscape, produce unwelcome and potentially dangerous noise and endanger the ecology of the proposed site.
Initially, the appearance of these wind turbines was generally accepted as a “good idea” by many of the people uninvolved, but the cumulative effect of more and more of these turbines is turning Devon and Cornwall into a pincushion, where the value of some people’s houses has been reduced to the extent that councils have started to lower the council tax band of those who are badly affected.
It would be different if these devices made a real contribution to our national requirement to keep the lights on. It is common knowledge that they are intermittent, and the difficulties in feeding their energy into the National Grid reduce much of the potential that wind energy might have. Were the true costs of this energy to be identified on our electricity bills, many citizens would say enough is enough and demand either a reduction in these subsidies or an end to wind turbine installations.
Recognising their growing unpopularity, developers are now promoting “community wind turbine projects”. These are often little more than an investment opportunity for those who can afford it, with the turbine blight being outsourced to others in the neighbourhood.
As more and more of these turbines appear, the communities affected are combining to oppose them on grounds that have little to do with pure Nimbyism. Many see these unwelcome structures ruining our landscape and a way of life prized by locals and visitors. They question whether this is a price worth paying for a form of “green energy” that might sound good but in reality makes an inefficient and insignificant contribution to our energy needs.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding