Saturday, 8 December 2012
Energy companies took the wind out of my sails
My parish council news arrived today with latest news on the wind farm proposal on land adjacent to our village. Needless to say, it appears the majority in the village are opposed, and the parish council have lodged their objections with the local council. This is more than simple NIMBYism. There are genuine concerns about the impact on the local environment and landscape. The company concerned have signally failed to do anything like sufficient research on what the likely impact would be. Their approach has been cavalier to say the least. As a result they are only now considering obvious questions such as how they would access the site; currently there is a narrow lane off an almost equally narrow country road.
The village feels under siege from wind farm companies with a plethora of proposed developments in the area. This is a great shame because I am generally in favour of wind technology. When the wind farm was first proposed I was supportive, although I had my concerns about the location. I could not understand why the site was suitable other than being a large tract of land and I was puzzled by some key questions, not least of these was how they would gain access and what the environmental impact of that would be. I sent an email to the company asking for some answers. I got not response. But I do know they received my emails.
I had found a problem with the company website and dutifully informed them. I got an immediate response thanking me for my help! But as to my questions about the wind farm proposal: silence. As a result they lost potential local support. Not only that, it increased my doubts and concerns that little thought or planning was being put into the proposals. Sadly, nothing they have done since has allayed my doubts. They have taken the wind out of my sail.
Sometimes we do need to give or make sacrifices for a common good. If we believe wind has a significant role to play in reducing damage to the climate then clearly they have to be located somewhere. Sometimes that might just be in our back yard! I do believe my local landscape is precious, but I am willing to consider that sacrifice. From a great distance wind turbines can be majestic; close up this is not so certain. They are of titanic proportion; number and location matter. Giving for the common good is fine, but it also requires a common consent and understanding. Local people deserve to be properly informed and should not be dismissed as selfish nimbies. Understanding or consent is unlikely to be achieved by riding roughshod over genuine concerns or by providing little or inadequate information.
What we need is a more coherent approach to wind technology by government, by energy companies and by local authorities. A hotch-potch of ill-conceived applications is unlikely to achieve consensus or the objectives of cleaner energy.