Wind turbines will be supported by rural communities in 25 years’ time, according to a series of essays on future village life from the think tank of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
As well as actively seeking out developers, “future villages” will own wind farms and residents will drink pints in local pubs with names such as “The Badger and The Turbine”, according to the articles from Building Futures.
The collection of essays, entitled A Thriving Village: Vision for 2035, has been put together by leading architectural thinkers and predict a countryside renaissance with villages benefiting from an abundance of affordable, energy-efficient homes.
Respected sustainability architect Iain Watt envisaged a future where wind turbine applications went through planning with “zero local objections”, with communities supporting self-sufficient projects in which they would get a share of the profits.
The essays have been released following high-profile protests against developments in the Westcountry. On Wednesday, hundreds of people turned up to view plans for 11 wind turbines at Week St Mary in Cornwall, with campaign group Communities Against Rural Exploitation saying the majority were against the proposals. Last month hundreds of others turned up to oppose proposals for the erection of 240 turbines off the North Devon coast, know as the Atlantic Array.
Jeremy Ward, who lives in Week St Mary, said such a future would not materialise with big commercial developers. He said: “I think there will be more small-scale renewable energy projects which will probably increase in acceptability. Personally, I think they are a good thing; in Week St Mary we have had some small-scale projects we have supported.
“I think if you are envisaging 25 years, technologically it is a very long time. I think it’s very possible that wind turbines will be remembered as an outdated technology and there may well be things that are far more efficient.
“Can I see a situation where the current developments will be acceptable to the local community? No, I find that too big a stretch. At the present time, the scale of it has lost all of its connection to the local community. It’s a commercial development, with commercial- scale finances and commercial-scale returns for everyone except those in the area where it is being proposed.”
But Ricky Knight, South West Green candidate for the 2014 European elections, said it was a common misconception that rural British communities were anti-turbine.
“I’ve never subscribed to that,” he said. “If you knock on doors and ask people about wind turbines, they mainly don’t [care].”
Saying he thought in future “most of our renewable energy will be under the sea”, he added: “What I do believe is that rural communities want to be self-sufficient. In other words, communities will have small-scale wind farms and will become even more popular.”
The essays also predict more parents will work from home, or in tourism and food production, using the internet to sell goods. More food will be grown locally and supplied nearby.
Derrick Spear, a councillor from Braunton, in North Devon, which is near Britain’s largest wind farm at Fulla-brook, said it was likely wind farms would become more acceptable to future generations who have grown up with them.
He said: “I would hope in 25 years the technology for wave action will be sufficiently advanced to mitigate use in favour of wind turbines because the tidal range in the Bristol Channel is second only to the Bay of Fundy in Newfoundland.
“The potential for wave tide technology is enormous. I think that what we have got with wind energy is a bit of a stop gap until more advanced technology succeeds it.”
Emilia Plokta, from Building Futures, said the thinkpiece series was designed to allow innovators to share their viewpoints and encourage debate.
“With globalisation opening up the countryside to new opportunities and threats while issues of subsidiarity promote local distinctiveness, we wanted to explore how villages can come to terms with modern life without losing the past,” she said.
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