At a 2012 village meeting, after doctor convincingly described alarming health dangers from turbine low-frequency sound, I started research and was soon questioning government and industry claims about wind energy’s ‘harmless’ benefits.
The wind power crusaders claim this system of energy generation saves fossil fuel use and by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions modifies man-made global warming and damaging climate change. I do not challenge the widely disputed guidance of the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Whatever the truth about climate, I am convinced government wind energy policies are valueless and destructive.
Let’s put UK wind in context. UK uses in total 1.5% of global energy. One-third is electricity of which wind’s target is some 20% (one-thousandth of world energy), less than half of that on-shore. Even claims that these tiny quantities replace fossil-fuel alternatives are false. DECC (Energy and Climate Change Ministry) compares notional wind outputs only with coal-fired generation (gas is more efficient) and crucially ignores fossil-fuel use caused by turbine manufacture, installation and operation plus substantial, mounting grid back-up inefficiencies. These factors eliminate most, probably all, alleged ‘benefits’, so UK’s regime cannot influence climate. Without wind disruption, modern power stations, particularly gas, provide fossil fuel and GHG reductions economically [Civitas, Ruth Lea, Electricity Costs]. Because conventional grid generation must duplicate virtually all random wind input, transfer from wind to fossil-fuel generation would be relatively simple. Long-term commitments to EU and subsidy exploiters are the problem.
UK turbine subsidies roughly double electricity market prices on-shore, triple them off-shore. Motivated solely by long-term, heavily subsidised returns, the big beneficiaries are turbine suppliers and corporate owners, mainly foreign, plus already wealthy individual investors. Over relatively few years, obsolescence, carbon pricing and EU emission standards will be responsible for closing 30% of UK’s electricity generation. Grid infrastructure modification costs are huge. Government’s gullible reliance on renewable industry consultation largely explains the most fervently misguided energy policies on Earth.
Concentrated in areas like Cornwall, progressive turbine damage inflicted on the character and amenity value of large rural and coastal areas of the UK will be incalculable and long-lasting.
People living near turbines may suffer adverse physical and psychological symptoms including, among many others, sleep deprivation, migraines, mood swings, depression, raised blood pressure and reduced performance working or driving. Moving beyond turbine range soon relieves most symptoms. Many suffer a worse quality of life, dominated day and night by giant, moving, noisy machines, imposed against their will by planners and profiteers, destroying their chosen environment and mental state. Independent, worldwide acoustic and medical studies since 1980s by NASA consistently show low-frequency sound and inaudible infrasound from turbines disturb the inner ear vestibular system governing various brain responses, cause body vibrations and resonate inside buildings. Government refuses to amend outdated ETSU-R-97 noise provisions, often misapplied, which measure only outdoor audible sound. Authorities and industry worldwide, aware current regulations inadequately protect populations, deny and suppress the overwhelming evidence. No research exists vindicating turbines.
Turbine planning processes are one-sided, complex and overloaded.
One recent example is an appeal inspector’s approval of a 284ft turbine in Norfolk despite wide local opposition. He asserted “its impact would be less than substantial” and “for some, a wind turbine provokes interest rather than distaste”. The High Court dismissed his decision. Such commonplace capricious injustice can only be reversed by high-risk, expensive legal action.
Public opinion polls strongly supporting wind energy are flawed, using simplistic questions to population cross-sections, the great majority neither exposed to near-by turbines nor knowing anyone who is. Victim communities may record 90%+ protests.
The worst turbine characteristic is the acute distress and life-wrecking impact suffered by a sizeable minority forced to live close to them. Personal or business financial loss has no redress.
Fossil fuels, on which we shall long depend, are running out. Eventual renewable alternatives must be reliable, affordable and safe.
Windpower damages energy security, the economy and, especially on-shore, landscapes, local environments, health, quality of life, communities, property values and tourism. It achieves nothing.
Peter Higham (Member of Cornwall Protect) is a retired accountant in SE Cornwall.
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