Winds farms have become a “blot” on the face of “God’s creation” and are threatening to destroy a landscape where saints once trod, a bishop warns today.
The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Martin Wharton, whose diocese in Northumberland includes some of the most dramatic countryside in England, is calling for a moratorium on allowing any more wind farms in the county.
In a strongly worded article published today, he warns that, far from fending off global warning, the rapid spread of giant wind turbines in the area is beginning to have a “massive environmental impact”.
While acknowledging the need to find new, more sustainable sources of energy, he says there are now “critical questions” over whether wind farms will even reduce carbon emissions.
Bishop Wharton is the first leading figure in the Church to breaks ranks with an unofficial consensus strongly favouring wind energy and believing that climate change must be combated at any almost cost.
Last year the Diocese of Exeter was forced to withdraw plans to erect turbines on its land in Devon after parishioners protested and there was similar opposition over plans by other dioceses.
In 2010 the Church Commissioners announced that they were actively exploring options to expand wind and solar power generation on its large land holdings.
Just last week an Anglican pressure group called for the Church to shun any investments involving fossil fuels in the same way as it does the arms industry or pornography.
But Bishop Wharton, who has a reputation as one of the most down to Earth figures in the Church hierarchy, said it was now time to recognise the “harm” wind energy is inflicting on the landscape.
Writing jointly for his diocesan magazine “Link” and the Newcastle Journal, he says that it has now become impossible to ignore the increasing numbers of turbines on hilltops.
“It is a basic Christian truth that we all have a duty and a responsibility to care for and exercise wise stewardship over God’s creation, which has been entrusted to us,” he writes.
“The danger is that in parts of Northumberland our landscape is becoming marred and disfigured and turned into one industrial site after another.”
In a reference to the Northumbrian saints such as Bede, Cuthbert and Hilda, he continues: “We are blessed to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
“We enjoy a wonderful physical and spiritual heritage in this land of the Northern Saints.
“Is now not the time to say ‘enough’” to any further blots on our landscape?”
He adds: “Whilst we all recognise the need for a greater reliance on sources of renewable energy, there are critical questions to be asked not only about the efficiency of wind turbines in general but also about the massive environmental impact that the significant growth and cumulative effect that wind farms are having in Northumberland.
“There is no evidence that I have seen that suggests that wind farms will ever provide the reliable, controllable energy that is required by our society, however many there might be.
“Furthermore some studies have even suggested that far from reducing CO2 emissions, wind farms actually increase them.”
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