In the big debate about wind farms, the line between two different, but related, issues has become blurred.
Ask anybody if they are in favour of renewable energy and they will say yes, it is a good thing. What the current controversy in Mid Wales is about is not about the desirability of renewable energy, but an old-fashioned planning row in which local people face having what they consider an out-of-keeping development foisted on them.
Wind farm supporters have used the strategic desirability of Britain developing new energy sources as their trump card to try to portray the objectors as nimbys who put their own interests above those of the nation.
Today those people who are directly affected by wind farms were handed a trump card of their own.
New guidance is expected to tell councils that local people’s concerns should take precedence over the need for renewable energy, and to give more weight to the impact of turbines on the landscape and heritage.
This hugely strengthens their hand and will be music to the ears to the 300 and more protesters who marched to the opening of a planning inquiry in Welshpool yesterday where proposals for five wind farms and an overhead power line through Mid Wales are going to be under the microscope for the next nine months.
Wind farms represent an industrialisation of attractive rural landscapes and the visual damage they do is widespread, far-reaching, and long lasting. Those protesters at Welshpool would scoff at any idea that they are environmentally friendly.
Their value in meeting the nation’s energy needs is hotly contested.
The new measures announced today include a five-fold increase in what developers are expected to pay residents for allowing wind turbines in their local area.
Ask those Mid Wales campaigners about that, and they will probably tell you they do not want them at any price.
These new measures will mean those proposing new wind farms will have to take the local people along with them. What can be wrong with that?
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