Some readers may remember MSP Mike McKenzie’s eulogising ode to wind energy titled ‘The answer is blowing in the wind.’ So he will be pleased that Loch Aweside is now beleaguered by three huge wind farm applications at various stages of planning – Upper Sonachan (Egotricity); Balliemeanoch (Sgurr Energy) and Blarghour (Coriolis Energy). Each will be determined by the Scottish Government due to their sheer scale & size. E.ON intend to test wind speeds in Inverliever Forest near Dalavich prior to yet another application. Whether more are ‘waiting in the wings’ is as yet unknown.
The wind industry and the Scottish Government make idealized claims about wind power which invite close examination:
UK communities outwith Scotland now have the final say on whether wind developments should proceed. We don’t.
The economy, infrastructure, businesses and homes cannot be powered when the winds don’t blow or blow too hard; the country needs conventional power generation as back-up. Cockenzie is closed and Longannet will follow soon, leaving just two aging nuclear generators and half a gas plant at Peterhead.
The National Grid has been forced to introduce an emergency scheme to pay large businesses to cut electricity usage; this had to be employed last week and is paid for by further levies on our energy bills.
In addition, as a direct result of our chaotic energy policy, banks of highly polluting diesel generators have been put in place at costs of up to 50 times average power prices, again paid by consumers. It is estimated that costs will be £463m with emissions of several million tonnes of CO2 a year.
These subsidies also attract solar developers who are building diesel generation on their sites to maximise their returns, compounding costs to the consumer. Very recently, due to high winds causing extra energy produced to be too much for the National Grid, Scottish wind farms have gained more than £5million so-called “constraint payments” paid for via a subsidy added to consumers’ electricity bills. Very Older generation plants have been brought out of mothballs to cope with the crisis.
Loss to the economy and job losses are bandied about by the industry and repeated by politicians.
There is no detailed data on either alleged ‘loss’. Would the money accrued by foreign developers stay in the country? Where is hard, factual economic evidence on jobs – in precisely which sector; full time/part time; which locations? How many jobs are lost in other industries due to high electricity costs because of subsidies and green levies on bills, and the covert knock-on costs levied from one industry to another? Our steel industry is fighting for its very survival, due in large part to high energy costs, not just cheap Chinese steel dumping.
Political parroting of wind industry figures is commonplace and yet Inverness-based Mackay Consultants revealed that electricity customers were ultimately billed for three times the amount required to help build them.
Health effects – noise and water contamination
Despite peer reviewed reports of 73 health professional experts and acousticians world-wide, denials of adverse health impact evidence already in existence and emerging continue. Adverse effects are well documented by many eminent people around the world, including Mike Stigwood whose ground-breaking research into amplitude modulation and other noise impacts on residents up to 10km from wind farms provides some of the strongest scientific evidence to date for the true environmental cost of windfarms. See: http://scotlandagainstspin.org/2013/12/wind-farms-noise-sacrifice-rural-minorities-mike-stigwood/. Effects are regularly reported: www.waubrafoundation.org.au – avifauna & animals: www.wcfn.org. An alert was sent to the BMA to help inform authorities and members of the medical profession about their role in public protection and human rights issues. See www.windsofjustice.org.uk for this and access to the Request for Action on wind power & water contamination issues.
The Australian Senate Inquiry this year listened to hours of testimony from witnesses who had been adversely affected by noise and read hundreds of submissions, before making hard-hitting recommendations.
If turbines are ‘harmless’, why are they being removed from school grounds due to potential danger to children and staff? As turbines become larger, so metal fatigue becomes a major issue, close proximity to our roads becoming highly relevant. See submission 117 to the Australian Senate Inquiry on wind power http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Submissions
Targeted farming communities are mostly unaware of disbenefits. A report at http://fairwindenergy.org/testimony.html is one of many global examples.
Schools welcome the industry speaking about the technology’s advantages. Is information ever given on adverse health, environmental or financial effects? Does anyone discuss children in China having to grow up in toxic villages to provide heavy metals for wind turbines and other equipment? Where is the balance in respect of what our children are led to believe?
A cross-party issue at the heart of all present and future needs should be a beneficial energy policy for our country. It is both possible and necessary to retain basic ethics of supporting the wish to change damaging environmental behaviour, while accepting that it must be accompanied by a healthy scepticism on any emerging questionable dogma, or hijacking of original principles
For the electorate and sufferers from turbine impacts, inescapable facts remain. Those paid to represent us have no right to impose an energy policy which is harmful to our physical, mental or economic health or the environment in which we live. We, conversely, have a right to reject the rapid imposition of policies based largely upon weak/unproven theories, ideologies, or political expediency, which disproportionately benefit the few to the detriment of many.
As speculative wind power applications rise throughout Scotland, vested interests mask problems relating to energy production technologies which have the capacity, through excessive implementation, to cause the opposite effect. Before imposing an energy policy upon a population, claims relating to emission savings and benefits must be first proven – and that it is being done without inflicting actual or indirect harm. This includes full transparency of plans and compliance with International Treaty legal obligations. If we do not insist that those in power act in our best interests via the rule of law and compliance with treaties involving human rights and aspects involved, we are risking a loss of democracy.
Scottish Government denials of adverse impacts upon tourism and visitor numbers, evidence of people suffering harm, and of plummeting property prices, show an inability to accept that in reality all those things are happening.
‘Wilful blindness’ is an apt description of the status quo. Unbiased politicians unafraid to depart from party lines are few. If existing with a capacity for serious research, will they please step forward to assist colleagues who don’t.
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