Chris Huhne asserts that wind generation is popular with the British public (The Conservatives’ onshore wind sums are all at sea, 7 April). He omits to say that’s because up to now the British public has been largely unaffected by the development of this fundamentally useless form of electricity generation. However, in the relatively small and thinly populated area of Britain that is the Scottish Borders, many of us have spent much of the past decade fighting windfarm development. Unsuccessfully, it has to be said: in spite of planning policies aimed at preventing undesirable development, some 400 turbines have been built here, and there are many more in the planning pipeline. If those 4,000 turbines across the UK produce about 5% of our total electricity need – when the wind is blowing – be sure there will be a windfarm coming your way quite soon. Let’s see how popular that turns out to be.
Huhne thinks that turbines are “elegant and minimalistic”. Individually on a distant horizon, Mr Huhne, or dozens in vast slabs of metal 70, 80 or more metres high, covering a couple of square miles and in your face on a daily basis? But even if they may be elegant, they certainly are not a solution to a pressing energy need. For every hour a turbine operates it has to be supported by alternative means, just in case the wind doesn’t blow, often when the temperature is at its lowest and our need is greatest. And should it blow too hard, landowners, many of whom don’t live close by and aren’t characterised by Huhne as “venomous nimbies”, can pocket large sums of “compensation” in return for turning them off. So it’s no surprise that here on the A1 at the Scotland-England border, there is a fine panorama of wind turbines 20 miles or more to the north, west and south.
• Chris Huhne claims that onshore wind enjoys more than 60% support in polls. May I point out that probably well over 95% of residents live far away from windfarms, and that only a few years ago the percentage of support was far higher. Mr Huhne might do well to consider why protesters against onshore wind appear to be so noisy, as he states. The answer should be perfectly clear to him: while residents affected by close proximity to the HS2 railway line or those affected by close proximity to fracking sites can expect compensation, there is no scheme for those affected by close proximity to wind turbines. Many of these people often live at high altitude in isolated locations, making it vital for such residents to be able to move away in sickness or old age.
Wyck Gerson Lohman
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