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Wind Farms and the Destruction of our Environment

Today at the Conservative Party Conference, my Scottish colleague Struan Stevenson MEP launches his new booklet, The Rape of Britain. It is, as the title suggests, a passionate plea for an urgent reassessment of our manic renewables policies, which propose to generate around 30% of UK electricity from wind by 2020. Bizarrely, the Scottish government has set itself a target not of 30%, but of 100%.

Struan approaches the issue from three directions.

First, as he puts it, “The Financial Scandal”. Wind farm subsidies are extraordinarily regressive. Quite simply, they take money from the poor (who pay electricity bills, and probably find themselves in “fuel poverty”), and give it to the rich. Struan lists the Lairds and Landowners across Scotland who are making hundreds of thousands out of wind subsidies (though he discreetly fails to mention David Cameron’s father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, who is up to the same trick in Lincolnshire).

Despite the absurd protestations of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne (who blames high energy prices on the failure of consumers to shop around), Struan rightly points out that our obsession with renewables and wind-turbines is dramatically driving up electricity prices, and threatens to force energy-intensive industries to move off-shore, taking their jobs with them. Struan also reminds us that because wind is intermittent, it requires conventional back-up (usually gas). So far as we know, the government is not building the necessary back-up plants.

Struan also points out (as I also have) that over-reliance on wind, without conventional back-up, coupled with the planned closure of coal and nuclear plants, looks set to deliver widespread electricity shortages and black-outs by the end of the decade. He reports that countries which are further down the wind-power route than the UK, like Germany and Denmark, are unable to demonstrate any reduction in CO2 emissions as a result.

Then there’s the issue of “Landscape Vandalism”. These vast industrial-scale structures are bad enough anywhere. But as a Scottish MEP, Struan is particularly alarmed at plans to site 150 giant turbines around Loch Ness. There are special concerns in Scotland where too many wind turbines are sited on peat moor-lands, where they release more CO2 from displaced peat than they can ever hope to recover in their lifetimes.

Last he turns to “Human and Animal abuse”. The damage done to local residents by low frequency noise and amplitude modulation from turbines (both indoors and out — windows are no protection) has been well-documented. But Struan with his farming experience is also concerned about damage to livestock and wildlife — particularly large raptors like sea eagles known to have been killed by turbine blades. As I was writing this, I noticed press coverage in the Sunday Telegraph suggesting that similar disruption has been noted in marine wildlife around off-shore wind farms.

I am of course delighted that one of my colleagues has picked up the cudgels in a battle which I have been fighting for some time, and I strongly recommend this booklet. I was especially pleased to see that Struan has picked up some of the points that I have been emphasising. “The myth that wind is ‘free’ is just as false as saying that coal or oil is free”. “They’re no longer farming wind, they’re farming subsidies”. “The recent gigantic hike in electricity and gas bills is directly related to this renewables madness”. “We are witnessing a dramatic transfer of money from the poor to the rich; from beleaguered consumers to wealthy estate owners and power companies”. “(This is being done) all for a small, intermittent trickle of electricity at vast cost”.

Struan’s booklet is published by Bretwalda Books (who also published my recent “Sceptic at Large”). It forms Number 5 in their Policy Papers series, and is available for £4:99. Bretwalda Books is owned and operated by my good friend and colleague Rupert Matthews, who is of course next-in-line on the Conservative East Midlands MEP list.