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Hyenas tearing strips off our countryside

The East Riding is like a wounded wildebeest. It lies there, weakened, puffing out its cheeks and trying vainly to stand, occasionally rolling those big, sad eyes and flicking its tail in a last sad act of defiance.

But it’s no use, the hyenas are circling.

They can sense the weariness, the fatigue, and they know sooner or later it will be juicy, prime wildebeest tenderloin for tea.

David Attenborough is probably hiding in a nearby tree, intoning in his authoritative tones something about the circle of life.

Elton John’s writing a Disney musical about it.

At least, that’s the state of play according to East Riding councillor Symon Fraser.

In this situation, though, the wildebeest is us and the hyenas are the renewable energy companies who see us as a soft touch.

The tenderloin, to stretch the metaphor beyond breaking point, is the rolling hills of the Wolds and the picturesque East Coast, which is about to be devoured by endless white whirring wind turbines.

According to Councillor Fraser, the authority may have reached the point where it can no longer afford to keep fighting on-shore wind farm applications.

The “crippling” cost of opposing the onslaught of applications that are invariably approved on appeal by the Bristol planning inspectorate, who no doubt couldn’t give a monkey’s whether East Yorkshire’s beautiful or not, is no longer viable, warns the councillor.

It may just be best to throw in the towel and allow the countryside to be swallowed by turbines.

And so the wildebeest wheezes and the hyenas lick their lips.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a committed anti-green nut.

I can see that eventually the oil’s going to run out and we’re going to have to find something to power our alarm clocks and kettles.

But I don’t see why we need to desecrate the landscape to do it.

What’s wrong with all the off-shore turbine power that we keep hearing about but still seems tantalisingly out of reach?

If that does the job and manages to stay out of sight, out of mind, by courtesy of being in he middle of the North Sea where it bothers no one but the occasional cod, then why not concentrate our energies on that?

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend a few days whizzing the length and breadth of the county to check out some pubs for the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards.

And from the northern foothills of the Wolds, to deepest Holderness and the Vale of York in the west, it’s an eye-opener to see just how many wind farms there are now scattered across the Riding. A few is fine. Acceptable even.

But it’s slowly starting to industrialise our countryside with these giant white spinning monoliths that can be seen from miles away.

It’s becoming overpowering.

The latest planning reversal, overruling East Riding Council and huge swathes of local opinion, to allow nine 130m turbines in Fraisthorpe, near Bridlington, is symptomatic of the damage being wrought on our region.

Bye-bye, scenic coast. See you later, tourists.

Who cares about the £615m the tourism industry funnels into the county’s coffers each year, when rich land owners are making a killing by renting out their fields?

Perhaps it would be churlish of me to suggest that a lot of the wind farm companies are based in the beautiful unspoilt south west, working for subsidies created by ministers from the home counties and pushed through by a Bristol inspector – non of which have a vested interest in whether we have unspoilt vistas up north or not.

I suspect they just see us as a dumping ground. We’re just an extension of the North Sea to them. We’re cod.

My only crumb of comfort is that I doubt the land turbines will be here for longer than a decade or two. As soon as the sumptuous subsidies disappear and the farmers aren’t raking in huge rents, they’ll disappear soon enough.

So I’m sorry, Cllr Fraser, I suspect you’re right that the costs are indeed a heavy burden – and one that’s only going to get heavier as the spoils of the green industry remain up for grabs.

But it’s a fight that still needs to be fought. Otherwise we’ll continue to be seen as a soft touch and the dumping ground, the slag heap, of this new energy industry.

The wildebeest can no longer afford to show any signs of weakness.