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Leo McKinstry: We Pay The Price For Folly Of Green Politics

The Government’s ideological obsession with wind power is inflicting ever greater damage on Britain, driving up our energy bills and ruining our countryside. Brutalist, expensive and inefficient, wind farms are nothing more than vast monuments to political vanity. They contribute little to our electricity supply, yet they cost us all a fortune.

The full insanity of this approach has been exposed by a new report from respected economist Professor Gordon Hughes, who warns that the Government’s green agenda is likely to push up electricity bills by more than £300 a year by 2020. In total, argues Professor Hughes, the Government’s subsidy for wind power amounts to more than £124billion over the next eight years, a colossal burden on families and businesses at a time when the economy continues to struggle.

Just like the attachment to mass immigration or surrendering to the EU, this policy has been advanced by the coalition, not for the sake of the national interest but solely on the grounds of fashionable political dogma.

It is no surprise that the Liberal Democrats, always the enthusiasts for sanctimonious posturing at the public’s expense, have been at the forefront of the Government’s drive to carpet large swathes of the country with these useless turbines.

Earlier this year the Lib Dem Energy Minister Ed Davey blocked attempts by the Treasury to cut the mammoth subsidies for wind power.

So we are all paying the price for the folly of our green-fixated politicians.

The huge increase in energy bills is outrageous, given that living standards are falling.

According to the House of Commons research library 50,000 households a year could be driven into fuel poverty because of the financial burden from wind subsidies. They are having their livelihoods sacrificed on the altar of doctrinaire environmentalism. Moreover, businesses are also suffering from soaring energy costs, making a mockery of all the Government’s pledges to boost the competitiveness of the British economy. Already several major companies are talking of relocating from Britain because of the high energy bills here.

What is particularly absurd about the focus on wind power is that it is so woefully inefficient.

In line with European Union targets, the Government wants to see about a third of our electricity provided through renewables by 2020.

This will require the creation of more than 10,000 new onshore turbines, on top of the 3,500 that have already been constructed, as well as a huge expansion in the number of offshore wind farms. Yet all this lavishly subsidised development will do little to improve the reliability or security of our energy supplies, since wind farms are such feeble, inconsistent generators of power.

Incredibly, they usually operate at just 21 per cent of their generating capacity because the wind blows intermittently.

To give one example, when a huge offshore wind farm was built near the North Kent coast where I live, we were told by operators that its capacity was 300 megawatts. But in reality its output has been on average just 80 megawatts, a tenth of that supplied by the typical gas-fired power station, and for this limited return we have to fork out £60million a year.

The Government constantly boasts of the number of so-called “green jobs” that are created through wind power but this is just more deceitful propaganda.

In fact, because we have no indigenous turbine manufacturers, most of the construction work goes to foreign firms. At the huge London Array wind farm in the Thames, which will be opened next year, 90 per cent of the contracts in the £2billion project have been handed to overseas firms.

But the one group of Britons who have done really well out of the wind craze are wealthy landowners who can add to their fortunes with vast rental fees, estimated to be worth £40,000-a-year, for each turbine on their land. Sir Reginald Sheffield, father-in-law of the Prime Minister, is said to be raking in £365,000 a year from wind farms on his Lincolnshire estate. That is so typical of modern Britain: the elite do well but the ordinary public has to bear the burden.

There is no need for any of this green energy nonsense.

The Government should be exploiting our natural resources, not punishing the public. Without the environmental dogma our bills could be far cheaper, for we are lucky to be one of the most energy rich nations on earth, with large reserves of oil, gas and coal at our disposal, as well as expertise in nuclear power and other technologies.

As Professor Ian Fells of Newcastle University pointed out this week, the new breed of combined gas cycle plants can produce the same amount of energy as wind power but at a tenth of the cost.

Green politics is predicated on the belief that man-made global warming is destroying the planet. But there is no hard scientific evidence for this thesis. Indeed, climate change has taken place throughout the earth’s history, long before the advent of man or industrialisation.

Nor will the construction of wind farms in Britain make the slightest difference to the global output of carbon emissions, given the phenomenal economic growth of the developing world. But wind power certainly causes destruction at home by ruining our natural heritage.

There is a curious paradox at work here. In the name of protecting the environment, the green politicians are inflicting terrible damage on our landscape.

Anyone who loves our green and pleasant land should be fighting for the removal of these monstrosities.

Daily Express, 8 August 2012