Ed Miliband – Question 2



Many CPRE members were concerned by your reported comments that it should be ‘socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area – like not wearing your seatbelt or driving past a zebra crossing’? Do you believe local communities have a legitimate role to protect valued local landscapes from damaging energy infrastructure? Or does the seriousness of climate change mean central Government will increasingly overrule local decisions?



Local communities do have an important role. In fact, we’re changing the rules for nationally significant infrastructures so developers have to consult the community before they even submit an application. And I agree that there are some places where wind farms may not be suitable.

The point I was making was just that we do need to think about our attitudes to wind farms. It’s not about overruling local decisions but making the case: the biggest threat to our countryside is not the wind turbine, it is climate change. As the RSPB said, “climate change is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, threats facing wildlife over the next 100 years.”

To head off that threat, we need all the low-carbon power we can get. We should build wind offshore, and in fact we have more offshore wind power now than any other country in the world. But the scale of the change is such that we need onshore too. Together, it can make a big difference: last year enough power for all the electricity for the equivalent of two million homes came from wind power.


57 responses

  1. Brian Skittrall

    It is far from clear that wind really is a low carbon power source. Reports coming out of Denmark seem to indicate that the additional carbon costs of supporting wind in their grid negate the cartbon savings achieved by generating 19% of their electricity from wind. What evidence is there that wind will reduce overall carbon emissions in the UK grid?

    3 July, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    • Tim Mills

      Countries such as Denmark have paid a small price for being pioneers in wind generated energy. In the decade or so that has passed turbine technology has progressed significantly and is constantly improving with the experience gained. Denmark, along with all other users will benefit from contiuing to invest in wind power.

      4 August, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      • Brian Skittrall

        “For our industry, it has been a terribly expensive disaster.” – Aase Madsen, Danish MP and Chair of Energy Policy

        That does not sounds like a small price to me.

        4 August, 2009 at 8:43 pm

  2. Simon

    A good reasoned response from Mr Miliband. No, wind farms can’t/won’t go everywhere, but love them or hate them we need them as they are avaliable to deliver now, they are our life raft. Hopefully in 10 to 20 years time we will have a whole host of other renewable technologies to rely on, and with energy efficiency improvements and energy storage solutions there will be little carbon emissions left in the UK grid!

    6 July, 2009 at 3:56 pm

  3. Brian Skittrall

    I can tell that you work in the renewables industry!

    How can wind be a life raft if it does not deliver genuine carbon savings?

    I hope that you are right about all the other renewable technologies.

    Wind may be more useful generating hydrogen by electrolysis for use in fuel cells. That overcomes the intermittency issue and gives us a realistic route to zero carbon transport.

    6 July, 2009 at 9:23 pm

  4. John Twidell

    Brian Skittrail may find it useful to realise that the excessive carbon causing climate change is from fossil fuels. The quantitative measurements and isotopic mix of carbon now in the atmosphere proves this. Thus fossil-carbon should stay underground. In the UK, every kWh of wind power abates (keeps in the ground)about 0.8 kg of fossil-carbon. The only fossil-carbon used is in the manufacture of wind turbines. Detailed studies show that a modern commercial windturbine ‘pay back’ the fossil-carbon so used in about 6 months to one year, depending on where and how the turbine was manufactured and on the turbine generating site. This will be true for Denmark, as for other countries.

    7 July, 2009 at 9:07 am

    • Brian Skittrall

      John I am surprised that someone of your standing should still be trying to cling on to a carbon offset level that assumes that wind power can exclusively replace coal power and at 100% efficiency. Even the BWEA (the wind industry trade body) now recommends using a grid average offset (0.43).

      The problem is that electricity from wind is intermittent, rapidly variable and uncontrollable also there is no way to store it until you need it. This causes two problems: you can not match supply to demand and you have to use reliable fossil fuels in an inefficient manner to smooth out the grid.

      In Denmark this means that they dump over 80% of their overnight wind output. At the moment they are giving it to Sweden who use it to pump water for later use in hydro power so it is not completely going to waste (but it certainly isn’t displacing coal at 100% efficiency). However this is a short term solution because Sweden are developing their own wind industry & so will not want it.

      Their increased use of fossil fuels comes from running power stations designed to run at full capacity in spinning reserve ready to kick in when the wind dies down. Just like when you leave your car in tick-over it uses fuel but achieves nothing. This is happening to such an extent that they are using as much fossil fuel as they did before they had wind power.

      In short they make no net carbon savings from using wind.

      7 July, 2009 at 9:49 am

    • Tony Leatham

      John Twidell makes reference to “Detailed studies show that a modern commercial windturbine ‘pay back’ the fossil-carbon so used in about 6 months to one year”

      Unfortunately, this is actually one of the myths propogated by the wind industry (and Professor Twidell, as a former council member of the BWEA is deeply embedded in the wind industry).

      The most reasoned report on the carbon cost of turbine manufacture was undertaken by the House of Lords and this reveals a payback period of 1 to 3 years. However, this payback period was based on the widely discredited (by the ASA amongst other organisations) figure of .86 kg/kWh. Using the more acceptable figure of .43 kg/kWh dictates that the payback period is in fact two to six years. As turbines have been statistically shown (in Denmark) to have a life of between 7 and 12 years, the carbon saving starts to look increasingly doubtful. If one considers that an element for the CO2 generated by spinning reserve (the backup power required to supplement turbines for periods when the wind doesn’t blow), the carbon cost of infrastructure (such as connection to the grid), the destruction of peat inherent at so many wind farm sites etc. it really is questionable that wind makes any reduction in CO2 emissions possible at all.

      To counter one more myth propagated, the wind does not blow somewhere in the UK at all times. Detailed studies of wind speeds from 30 weather stations around the UK for the period October to February 2009 reveal that in fact there were 58 days where the there was insufficient wind to achieve more than 5% of the installed capacity of wind energy in the UK. That’s 58 days in a five month period – i.e. around 40% of the time.

      8 July, 2009 at 4:35 am

  5. Dr Phillip Bratby

    The RSPB is totally wrong in claiming that “climate change is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, threats facing wildlife over the next 100 years”. A changing climate has been one of the greatest drivers of natural selection throughout life on earth. Species adapt and survive or don’t adapt and become extinct – think dynosaurs. If the climate continues to cool and the next glacial period starts (remember it is overdue, the Holocene has lasted over 11,000 years), then many species, including humans, will be at great risk of being wiped out. However, if we are lucky and warming resumes, then the increased plant growth and food will be good for most animal life.

    7 July, 2009 at 7:49 pm

  6. Dr John Etherington

    Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Miliband has replied that “the biggest threat to our countryside is not the wind turbine, it is climate change.”

    Had this been in an advertisement it would probably contravene the Advertising Standards Code, as the average person would take it as meaning that building windmills will affect climate change = in other words measurably reduce “global warming”. Mr Miliband could not provide proof of this conclusion and indeed it is probably untrue.

    The UK contributes about 2 per cent to global man-made emissions. Thus if we removed every human, every vehicle and factory from Britain we would reduce world emission by 2 p.c. Electricity accounts for about two-fifths of CO2 emission and wind power, for technical reasons, cannot contribute more than a 10 to 20 p.c. of that amount. Thus the 2020 target for wind turbines would mitigate maybe 0.08 to 0.16 p.c. of global CO2 emission.

    It is not possible for this minute reduction of emission to alter global atmospheric CO2 concentration by a measurable amount, still less reduce the incidence of hot weather, even if the warming effect of CO2 is as extreme as the worst virtual projections of the mathematical models, which is unlikely.

    Our politicians are promoting a damaging course of action which is merely symbolic, and they have been deceived into supporting what can only be described as a money-making scam in which consumers, via the Renewables Obligation, are hugely inflating the income to be made from wind power and in so doing financing the destruction of the countryside and jeopardising future security of electricity supply.

    8 July, 2009 at 6:18 pm

  7. The former PM said on a visit to Co Durham area some years ago he would tell his family not to leave the computer on standby and to use resources carefully to help save the planet. DETR published a booklet in May 1999 are you doing your bit? It was posted on the internet at http://www.doingyourbit.org.uk
    It encouraged everyone to save energy, water and to recycle, to buy energy efficient products

    Why did we ignore this advice and concentrate on building wind turbines? Planning was weakened and the Renewables Obligation progressively increased to maintain investor confidence and ensure the turbines were built,Surely meauring targets in installed capacity rather than output must surely be seen as a stubborn and defiant way of ignoring what is right or reasonable

    Blades have spun off turbines have caught fire, been struck by lightning and some have not operated for months or even years.
    It seems the time to properly consider turbine performance, producing electricity and saving carbon dioxide emissions plus the noise, aviation wildlife and taking away the right for peaceful enjoyment of ones home, has finally arrived

    A chicken and egg situation meant we had to have operating turbines before any of these issues could be properly assessed Now we do have the facts‘

    Nevertheless it is the local councillors who will have the final say, torn between the recommendation of planners (themselves, bound by Policies) and the needs of the ratepayers, they represent

    The worlds largest urban wind farm on a major industrial brownfield site, TeesWind mooted in 2001 seemed an appropriate site, contaminated land owned by Corus
    However five years after planning was approved subject to conditions, it stalled. I was told due to Aviation related issues

    8 July, 2009 at 10:56 pm

  8. Michael Tyce

    Given that climate change far greater than we may be experiencing now is not in any way historically exceptional; that there is no hard evidence that man-made CO2 emissions are a contributing factor; and that in any case more certain methods of tackling CO2 emissions are availble than fickle on-shore windfarms, how can you justify permanently blighting vast areas of the diminishing resource of our precious landscape with these intrusive monsters?

    9 July, 2009 at 9:28 am

  9. Andy Yuille

    Oddly, in a very significant way it doesn’t really matter whether climate change is happening, or man-made, or not.

    The real challenge we face is that our entire global economy and society is 100% reliant on cheap and easy access to fossil fuels for everything it is and does. We are now approaching the end of that cheap and easy access. But global demand is rising more rapidly than at any previous point in history.

    The measures proposed to mitigate climate change impacts are also those needed to adjust to the new realities of a world in which the control and extraction of fossil fuels incurs increasingly less acceptable economic, social and environmental costs.

    The Government’s broad policy position, based on the energy hierarchy, seems wise – in priority order, first reduce demand for energy, then use energy more efficiently, then exploit renewable and sustainable sources, then exploit non-sustainable resources using low-carbon technologies, and lastly, exploit non-sustainable resources as we do now.

    Unfortunately, the implementation of this policy is not yet terribly effective, and indeed my impression is that political will and public and private money is being spent in pretty much the inverse order of priority to that set out in the hierarchy, with absolute reductions in energy consumption certainly coming a resounding last priority.

    If we can agree on this – that we (ie the vast majority of our species) are 100% reliant on cheap and easy access to fossil fuels, and that we cannot continue to rely on that access – then we can shed much of the heat generated by these debates and focus more clearly on illuminating the issues at stake.

    In this case, the key issues seem to be how effective the various renewable technologies are at replacing fossil fuels, and how we can meaningfully compare the value of that replacement with incommensurate values such as the impact on landscape. It can never be socially unacceptable to give voice to a value reached by reasoned judgement – and the planning system provides us with a deliberative forum in which the reasons and judgements underpinning such values can be explored. The fear is that the IPC will have the power to curtail such exploration.

    In any case, these debates still need to be seen in the context of the energy hierarchy outlined above, and the overwhelming need to rapidly embark on a trajectory of ‘energy descent’.

    (The “doesn’t matter” comment does not of course apply to adaptation measures necessary to help communities, economies and the semi-natural environment adjust to climate change that is already happening – whatever its cause. And yes, the semi-natural environment does need help because our interventions have reduced its capacity to adapt naturally).

    9 July, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    • Tony Leatham

      A very well reasoned response – but unfortunately, it’s built on an incorrect assumption. According to BP in 2007, there were 147 years of proven coal left (i.e. known reserves), and it is known that exploration teams are still finding coalfields.

      Further, the argument does not include the word nuclear.

      9 July, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    • Brian Skittrall

      I agree. The Government only seems to want to appear green because it an electoral winner. Wind turbines are the icon of the green movement & so can be literally be a monument to their green commitment.

      Reducing consumption by any means shrinks the economy and the tax take – maybe that is why it is less popular.

      We desperately need a grown up debate based on sound science so that we can start making the right choices. While anyone who questions the extent of man’s contribution to global warming is dismissed as a “climate change denier” and anyone that has the temerity to object to unacceptable windfarms applications is unquestioningly branded a NIMBY we will get nowhere.

      Incidentally, I have recently heard that 58% of manmade CO2 is from breathing – do wee need to include population control?

      9 July, 2009 at 4:49 pm

      • Iain Gerrard

        Brian Skitrall,
        There is little doubt in my mind that the worst polluter of the planet is man himself and yes, we do need to include population control.
        Over the years in the UK (I’m going back at least 50) I’ve read that a sustainable population would be of the order of 30 million; we are presently over 60 million and rising. The populations in other countries will continue to rise I imagine and the pressure will increase on this country to take more in. Heaven help us!
        A strong reason why we object to the introduction of wind turbines is precisely because we haven’t enough wild, uncluttered countryside left to satisfy the needs of the existing population.
        I don’t believe that we will have any sustainable solutions until this ‘elephant in the room’ is addressed.

        24 August, 2009 at 2:06 pm

  10. Michael Tyce

    You’re right that Government only wants to appear green because it sees it as a vote winner.

    How can it be when it is obvious from this blog, and from any conversation you ever have, that even those who have studied the subject are overwhelmingly sceptical?

    It is because the Greens, windfarm manufacturers and “climate change scientists”, and of course Al Gore, with films and lectures to sell, are a well organised and vocal lobby who actually will actually turn out to vote for windfarms – whilst all the rest of us are grumblingly accepting that our countryside is to be descrated by turbines, and that our electricty bills are going up by £200 a year to pay for them.

    If politicians saw that there would be more votes in stopping this nonsense than promoting it, we wouldn’t hear another word about the “settled science”, or “peak oil” or all the other claptrap used to justify windfarm mania.

    11 July, 2009 at 10:05 am

  11. Michael talks about wind farm mania
    Much of this is supported by misleading statements and oft cited statictics.
    We do not seem to be able to stem the flow of exaggerated claims and conflicting reports from BWEA

    Here are two more recent conflicting reports on targets

    BWEA Real power Jan-Apr 2006 Durham 1st County to Meet Renewables Targets Approval of a 12-turbine wind farm has made County Durham the first county in England to hit its renewable energy targets. The Banks Development project, located between Tow Law and Lanchester, was passed by Derwentside councillors in December 2005 meaning County Durham will hit its target of 82 MW of renewable energy generation by 2010

    BWEA Press Release July 2009
    Regions Lagging on 2010 Renewables Targets
    The 2010 targets set by each regional planning authority are voluntary, as opposed to the EU wide 2020 targets which are binding. The only part of England which has met its 2010 targets is London,

    Posted as a community member

    19 July, 2009 at 6:01 pm

  12. Lorraine Tostevin

    Many of those who have the misfortune to live close to wind farms have seen their lives blighted by the noise and the shadow flicker and their overall aspirations and zest for life has been tarnished by the fact that they are now unable to sell their homes.

    A question I would like to pose is that whilst pursuing the current policies for onshore wind what are the government actually doing to protect the rights of the public to continue to enjoy a peaceful existence within their own homes?

    In Durham we are faced with yet another application for wind turbines which means the prospect of some 60+ turbines in the areas surrounding Sedgefield and Darlington alone. Some of these proposed turbines are literally only 400m from people’s homes. Our local Member of Parliament (MP) Mr Phil Wilson has questioned the need for this vast number and recently raised this issue formally in the House of Commons. Quote as follows.

    ‘Does my hon. Friend agree that, while we all know the importance of making people aware of climate change, it is equally important to take people with us in solving the problem, rather than swamping them with wind farms?’

    The planning proces, along with the outdated PS22 guidance and the Regional Spatial Strategy do little to protect those most affected. Local residents are invariably not made formally aware of any proposed applications for wind turbines until the very last moment, by which time the Power Companies have spent years on exacting their proposals. When the plans are finally presented residents and other stakeholders have only a matter of weeks to make a reasoned response. How can that possibly be a fair and democratic process?

    If the government are intent on industrialising the countryside with onshore wind perhaps they could at least spare a thought for those whose lives are being trampled on to achieve this aim and reconsider the public requests and government petitions for a guaranteed 2km set back distance for wind turbines from people’s homes.

    Posted by a community member


    24 July, 2009 at 8:52 am

  13. Jane Davis

    My family have been deeply hurt and upset by the comments made by the Rt Honourable member saying that complaining about windfarms should become socially unacceptable….Our lives have been simply devastated by the erection of a windfarm 930m from our home and the reality is that no one wants to do anything about our plight or that of any of the other noise (or in some cases flicker) problems. There isnt one area of our life that hasn’t been adversely affected by our fight to go back to a home we can rest and sleep in. I have even “been advised” to remove myself off a Charity help line I was working with as there is a potential conflict of interest now that we are suing the landowners as well as the Owners/operators of the windfarm in the High Court…………………………and incidentally we have exhausted all the normal processes to address a noise nuisance and nothing has been done (in spite of the fact that they do breach the planning conditions). No one is willing to accept responsibility or liability,hence the forthcoming court action. But this should not have been necessary.
    We support Wind Power in principle but more MUST be done to understand how these newer larger turbines interact on the environment around them. That research has not been done.
    We too would recommend a separation distance…but we dont know what to recommend as the research has not been done. It seems that 80% of currently operating wind farms run without casuing noise and flicker issues. What is it about the other 20% that is different? Why isnt the Government looking at that instead of suggesting that the very real problems we and others have are “nimbyism”????
    The Minister is aware of the problems, yet nothing is done. Until the general public see real evidence that where there are genuine problems these are properly examined and mitigation measures applied, then people will carry on objecting to wind farms.

    24 July, 2009 at 10:49 am

  14. Brian Skittrall

    Sadly the official attitude to noise problems is illustrated by the report that commissioned by BERR to look at Amplitude Modulation (Univ Salford). This concluded that because the problem only affected a few people, it was not cost-effective to fund more research. Or, to put it another way, a few people in the countryside don’t matter.

    It is wholly unacceptable that a few individuals are forced to pay such a high price “for the public good”. With such massive profits being made by developers and the new business rates bonanza for the Government, there should be a proper compensation scheme to allow people like Jane Davis to be compensated without having to spend years battling through the courts.

    This Government and the wind industry should be ashamed of themselves. There is no excuse for what has happened.

    24 July, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    • Jane Davis

      The problem is that we want to go home, no amount of money will allow us to live and sleep in our own home. No amount of money will enable others suffering sleep deprivation to sleep at night.
      In order to enable us (and others to sleep) it is likely that 8 metres of acoustic insulation woudl be required around our house…and that’s just stupid.

      Its not about compensation, its about looking at why there are problems with some wind farms, learning from them, and not only putting right what has gone wrong, but stopping more going up without learning the lessons.
      If we didnt have some hope, that at some point we would be able to go home again, then frankly there would be no point in waking up tomorrow. And Minsters saying that we are socially irresponsible just piles on the misery and increases the despair.

      24 July, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  15. Paul Paterson

    How can Ed Miliband – or whoever is doing his job by the time this is published – make such pompous statements as “it should be socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area – like not wearing your seatbelt or driving past a zebra crossing’? Who does he think he represents? He was elected to represent the voters and listen to their views and to speak and act on their behalf – not AGAINST them!

    Much has been said on this blog and elsewhere to show that wind turbines are, by and large, a barmy idea which produce the most expensive form of electricity known to man and, do not reduce the CO2 emissions they are claimed to and, incidentally, destroy the quality of life of people such as Jane Davis. Does he never consider why every planning application for onshore wind turbine meets with opposition, I wonder?

    Of course nobody wants wind turbines near them – they ruin lives, property values, wildlife and countryside – so how dare he tell us that it is unacceptable to object?

    24 July, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  16. Rita Sinclair

    Three points, Mr Miliband:
    1. “Local communities do have an important role”. No, they do not: your government has emasculated local communities. Planning policies have been relentlessly strengthened with one purpose only: to bind, gag and browbeat local communities so that you can inflict upon them the most inappropriate developments which wreck the quality of their lives. The ‘important role’ of an objector is, at most, a 3-minute speech at a Planning Meeting. Correspondence with planning authorities and wind developers on any of the issues associated with wind turbine applications invariably results in something along the lines of “PPS22 states this is not a problem”. It is outrageous that specific local concerns are brushed aside by reference to a few paragraphs in an outdated policy written largely by the wind industry, and which itself refers to even older guidelines. Contact with developers is even worse: in the case of our community, the developer consistently refused to hold a public meeting with local people (apparently a common experience). When we complained to our local planning authority, they told us it was nothing to do with them. In summary: local communities are denied everything and granted nothing.
    2. Your point ‘we do need to think about our attitudes to wind farms’ is actually quite true: YOU need to think about YOUR attitude to them. We need you to take off the blinkers, to look at the output of wind turbines, not the red herring of installed capacity. We need you to look at the ACTUAL amount of CO2 they will save, not the highly exaggerated figures quoted by the wind industry. An Inspector’s Appeal decision this week (Armistead) quoted “the even lower figure that is emerging of 0.37t/MWh”. And then, if you dare to be honest and admit that on-shore wind turbines in low wind-speed areas such as the Midlands will neither supply us with enough electricity to meet projected demands, nor make any impact on climate change, perhaps we can concentrate on more effective ways to address both these issues.
    3. “climate change is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, threats facing wildlife over the next 100 years”. No, it is not. The greatest threat of the next 100 years will likely be the same as the last 100 years: habitat destruction and lack of food, all caused by the intense pressure inflicted on wildlife by man, not by nature. And the cumulative destructive impact of thousands of wind turbines on bats, birds and other wildlife means this will only get worse.

    24 July, 2009 at 11:42 pm

  17. Alan Turner

    Forget the wind farms. How does the government square their stated climate aims with unbridled housing development (even the ludicrously named Eco-Towns that are a trojan horse for the cynical big house builders), unbridled immigration and their encouragement of air transport mainly aimed at fatuous holiday making. The answer to climate change involves reigning in China and India’s rush to industrialisation via the dirty route we have hopefully left behind, reducing air travel, and stopping the destruction of the rain forests. In short, a global solution. A few wind turbines that are a blot on the landscape and don’t work very well anyway are not the answer, or even starting to be.

    31 July, 2009 at 7:32 pm

  18. Andy Woodcock

    I disagree totally with Ed Millibands argument.

    Climate Change has yet to have ANY impact on the Countryside yet Wind Farms are already destroying what wonderful countryside we have left.

    Why do we worry about a climate threat to the Countryside that is not yet real while spending millions of pounds on wind farms destroying the Countryside quicker than any hot summer or mild winter.

    We were all told 5 years ago that hot Mediteranian summers were expected to be the norm and we should buy drought resistent plants, well I can tell you Ed that all my tropical plants are now dead after 3 cool miserable summers and one cold, frosty winter.

    So much for climate computer models.


    31 July, 2009 at 10:15 pm

  19. Richard Jordan

    Why is no one in Government acknowledging the hazards of placing wind turbines within 1.2 – 2 kms of human habitation? Scotland has taken action as have other countries such as Denmark, France and various States within USA. I put it to you that the potential ill health hazard caused by infranoise and Audio Modulation vibration will come back to haunt us all. Think nuclear bomb testing and the Servicemen involved, asbestos and cigareetes. All were deemed risk worthy in their time

    1 August, 2009 at 4:18 pm

  20. Brian Gallagher

    Much as I applaud this CPRE debate initiative, it concerns me that the cart is being put before the horse.

    The question is not “where to place turbines” but first to be very, very clear about all aspects of the wind balance sheet before committing 100s of £billions – during the worst financial crisis since the 1920s. There is clear independent expert scepticism about the achievability of renewables targets set. Honestly calculated numbers need to be made available for public scrutiny. Otherwise, the war between political, profit-driven, & ideological interests and the rest of us will continue and intensify.

    The essentials are measurable. If Ed Milliband is serious about debating the issues, and being accountable to the people he purports to represent, it’s high time for transparency.

    The Government’s requirement for consultation with the public by wind developers is plainly not working. In East Anglia developers almost always refuse to attend public meetings because they are well aware of the public mood concerning turbines. They know that the financial, energy output, CO2 emissions and other numbers don’t add up and are becoming increasingly aware of unanswered health questions.

    These are some of the issues to be addressed.

    If CO2 reduction is the primary objective, what data from Denmark and Germany, as well as from the UK, supports the proposition that wind energy lowers emissions? Any assumptions made in calculating the figures need to be stated clearly.

    In arriving at emissions conclusions, have all factors been taken into realistic account? I have in mind destruction of carbon stores such as peat; impact of making concrete for turbine foundations; access roads; steel making; manufacture; transport from country of origin to site; maintenance costs; electricity used by turbine themselves in order to operate; transmission losses from remote sites; the full costs involved with designing, making, transporting, and installing essential conventional backup power stations; full allowance for inefficiencies inherent in spinning reserves attempting to track turbine output vagaries.

    Added to this are unavoidable infrastructure costs and energy/CO2 implications. Most of Western Europe was blacked out towards the end of 2007 when German turbine output surged – and “catastrophe narrowly avoided”. What account has been made for additional grid and new control equipment? If a pan-European Supergrid is seen as the only way to attempt ‘balancing’ erratic wind energy – what are the CO2 and cost figures?

    Public confidence could be increased if the likes of Professor Ian Fells and Professor Dieter Helm are at the heart of determining a credible energy policy. At present all decisions appear to be made by people chosen for their alignment with the achievement of (ill-conceived) Government targets, the BWEA, and those with a blinkered green ideological agenda.

    It is also important to put any CO2 contribution the UK might theoretically make into global perspective. China, India and other developing countries (plus Germany as above) are set to roar ahead with coal fired power stations. Ed Milliband seems to have forgotten a lesson King Canute learned a long time ago.

    Unfortunately, statements by Ed Milliband reinforced negative perceptions. A fair and open debate is not possible if the ‘Chairman’ is not impartial and open to truths (however inconvenient) and makes unprovoked attacks on the fact-based opposition of one side.

    The economic and environmental aspects of onshore installations are difficult. Offshore development has its own challenges. Balancing grid infrastructure; damage to the sensitive marine environment; the practical impossibility of working more than a few short months each year in the harsh sea conditions; extreme shortage of suitable vessels to transport giant construction sections to site; and much more – concerns energy and engineering experts. To them this is all an “aspiration” too far. Government does not have a good record in delivering technical projects on time and on budget. Where is the evidence to back up the rhetoric?

    Then there is the whole manmade climate change (AGW) proposition. Constantly repeating the “settled science” assertion doesn’t make it so. How can it be settled when it is based on computer modelling notoriously prone to errors because input is based on questionable assumption? Our Met Office “barbeque summer” is a case in point … so how can predictions about years and decades ahead be taken seriously?

    It is my understanding that about 1800 (72%) of the alleged “2500 IPCC scientists” who support Climate Change assumptions are in fact politicians following a political rather than scientific agenda. And what calculation has been made for the overdue mini ice age? Scientists who want funding to do what they want to do, research, are unlikely to get it if they raise legitimate questions about the current climate change obsession.

    Time is running out if we want to keep the lights on and the economy working.

    This is part of the fundamental picture that needs addressing before we get into the subsidised destruction of countryside, minimum safe distances between turbines and homes, fuel poverty, and Wind Turbine Syndrome – even though the lead research peer reviewer is Robert, Professor Lord May of Oxford, OM AC FRS, former President of The Royal Society, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government and Head of the UK Office of Science and Technology. He is also, amongst others things, a member of the UK Government’s Climate Change Committee. The NHS needs turbine patients like a hole in the head.

    Politicians should watch Dr Mike Hall’s expert presentations if facts mean anything to them http://www.cartmelvalleyturbines.com/

    5 August, 2009 at 5:04 pm

  21. Mike Coleman

    I agree with many commentsa about the unreliabilty and non green credentials of wind energy andits detrimental effect on the landscape. It is clear that wind energy should not be used to do something it can not reliably do such as support the national grid but it does occur to me that wind could be used to charge up the batteries of electrically powered vehicles if it had its own grid. This way the cars etc would be truly green and charged when the wind blows. We could then all drive around greenly. Many other options for clean cars such as hydrogen powered etc are noot green at all taking much energy to create the clean fuel etc. So why does the government not think of using wind where it can make a green contribution rather than plug it for where it can not!

    6 August, 2009 at 8:03 am

    • Tony Leatham

      I suspect Mr. Coleman is not an engineer – he suggests adding a second national grid. OK, so that means how many tens of thousands of miles of copper cable, how many hundreds of thousands of pylons, how many thousands of substations?

      And just how “green” would all that be?????

      And what consumer choice – I can only drive my car after it’s been windy! Last winter, the wind turbine fleet was becalmed for the best part of six weeks. Do you really think that at the coldest time of year consumers are going to be really happy about having to walk everywhere?

      6 August, 2009 at 8:40 am

  22. Martin Heath

    Realistically we need to emulate the French and go for nuclear energy as our major source of electricity as soon as possible. There is proven technology available that can generate vast quantities of non-fossil fuel energy. Sadly what other solutions provide is just a drop in the ocean, at great environmental expense.

    6 August, 2009 at 11:02 am

  23. Philip Sharpe

    Why is there so little recognition of the serious threat to public safety from wind turbines ?

    A quick search on the internet (e.g. Google ‘wind turbine accident’) reveals that accidents involving wind turbines are not uncommon and are increasing, with many examples of death or serious injury during transport, erection, maintenance and use of these machines as well as collisions with light aircraft and paragliders. Of greatest public concern are several major electrical, mechanical and structural failures resulting in fire, falling debris or flying debris being projected over a wide area, and even total collapse of towers. There are many photographs on the internet to illustrate this. There is also a dramatic video on YouTube of a Danish wind turbine collapsing. Injuries have also been caused by pieces of ice thrown from rotating blades in winter. It is clear that large wind turbines are inherently dangerous and unguarded moving machines which pose major safety hazards from structural failures and impacts.

    That many people are not yet aware of these dangers is partly due to most large turbines in Britain
    having so far been sited in remote locations; offshore, the Scottish Highlands, Welsh mountains, on remote moorland or open hillsides; well away from habitation and in most cases from public access. Damage to turbines in these places may affect only a few birds or sheep, and has sometimes been treated by the press as somewhat of a joke, as witness the incident in January in Lincolnshire that was initially blamed on UFOs ! (deliberately by the owners to deflect attention from the serious implications of such structural failure).

    As reported in the Daily Telegraph at the time: “Fraser McLachlan of GCube, which insures more than 25,000 wind turbines, said it was extremely unlikely that any external object hit the turbine. He said there were five or six instances a year of blades separating of their own accord, usually due to construction faults. “Water could have got into hairline cracks in the blade, weakening the structure when it turned into ice, or it’s possible that the blades were just poorly attached to the hub,” he said. “Sometimes machines just break.”

    Worryingly, there is a new wave of sites being proposed in well populated lowland countryside where, even though the likelihood of structural failure may be statistically low, the consequences should it occur could be catastrophic, with a serious risk of death or injury to any members of the public or other users of the land within the radius of debris fall.

    Some countries in Europe have apparently already imposed exclusion zones around wind turbines ranging from 500 metres to 2 km to protect public safety, but it appears that our planning system has yet to recognise and act on this necessity, despite the current obsessions with more minor issues of health and safety. It is imperative therefore that Councils obtain their own detailed risk assessment for sites before determining applications.

    Ed Milliband might like to consider why the national Planning Policy Statement on Renewable Energy PPS22 (2004) and its Companion Guide (Chapter 7 Wind (onshore)) fails to recognise the seriousness of these safety issues and fails to give adequate guidance about separation distances from all public access areas.

    6 August, 2009 at 1:47 pm

  24. Brian Gallagher

    This information has been circulated and poses properly argued questions by credible scientists. It points out that global temperatures are still going down more than 12 months after this letter was written to the IPCC and copied to the UK Government.

    Such serious matters justify serious, detailed, and unequivocal answers from Ed Miliband and Caroline Lucas. It will be helpful to know what action the IPCC and the UK Government took after this information was made known.

    Will the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference take proper account of the fact that there is no scientific consensus on the AGW proposition?

    It has not been possible to include a graph and some other data.

    Dr. Rajendra Pachauri
    Chairman Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    c/o World Meteorological Organization
    7bis Avenue de la Paix
    C.P. 2300 CH- 1211 Geneva 2,

    14 April 2008

    Dear Dr. Pachauri and others associated with IPCC

    We are writing to you and others associated with the IPCC position “that man’s CO2 is a driver of global warming and climate change” to ask that you now in view of the evidence retract support from the current IPCC position [as in footnote 1] and admit that there is no observational evidence in measured data going back 22,000 years or even millions of years that CO2 levels (whether from man or nature) have driven or are driving world temperatures or climate change.

    If you believe there is evidence of the CO2 driver theory in the available data please present a graph of it.

    We draw your attention to three observational refutations of the IPCC position (and note there are more). Ice-core data from the ACIA (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment) shows that temperatures have fallen since around 4,000 years ago (the Bronze Age Climate Optimum) while CO2 levels have risen, yet this graphical data was not included in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers (Fig. SPM1 Feb07) which graphed the CO2 rise.

    More recent data shows that in the opposite sense to IPCC predictions world temperatures have not risen and indeed have fallen over the past 10 years while CO2 levels have risen dramatically.

    The up-dated temperature measurements have been released by the NASA’s Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) [1] as well as by the UK’s Hadley Climate Research Unit (Temperature v. 3, variance adjusted – Hadley CRUT3v) [2]. In parallel, readings of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have been released by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii [3]. They have been combined in graphical form by Joe D’Aleo [4], and are shown below.

    These latest temperature readings represent averages of records obtained from standardized meteorological stations from around the planet, located in both urban as well as rural settings. They are augmented by satellite data, now generally accepted as ultimately authoritative, since they have a global footprint and are not easily vulnerable to manipulation nor observer error. What is also clear from the graphs is that average global temperatures have been in stasis for almost a decade and may now even be falling.

    A third important observation is that contrary to the CO2 driver theory, temperatures in the upper troposphere (where most jets fly) have fallen over the past two decades. [Footnote 2]

    IPCC policy is already leading to economic and unintended environmental damage. Specifically the policy of burning food “maize as biofuel” has contributed to sharp rises in food prices which are causing great hardship in many countries and is also now leading to increased deforestation in Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Togo, Cambodia, Nigeria, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Benin and Uganda for cultivation of crops [5].

    Given the economic devastation that is already happening and which is now widely recognised will continue to flow from this policy, what possible justification can there be for its retention?

    We ask you and all those whose names are associated with IPCC policy to accept the scientific observations and renounce current IPCC policy.

    Yours sincerely,

    Hans Schreuder Analytical Chemist UK mMensa
    Piers Corbyn Astrophysicist UK WeatherAction.com
    Dr Don Parkes Prof. Em. Human Ecology, Australia
    Svend Hendriksen Nobel Peace Prize 1988 (shared) Greenland

    Cc: to a number of senior IPCC staff
    also to Tim Yeo MP (Chairman Environmental Audit Committee)
    Lord Martin Rees (President Royal Society)
    Gordon Brown MP
    David Cameron MP
    Nick Glegg MP
    Kevin Rudd PM of Australia

    Footnote 1: Two heavily publicised quotations which emerged from your organisation, respectively in February and December last year, are:

    Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations. It is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctica) (Figure SPM.4).{2.4} [6] and

    The 2007 IPCC report, compiled by several hundred climate scientists, has unequivocally concluded that our climate is warming rapidly, and that we are now at least 90% certain that this is mostly due to human activities. The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years, and it is rising very quickly due to human activity. If this trend is not halted soon, many millions of people will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, floods and storms, our coasts and cities will be threatened by rising sea levels, and many ecosystems, plants and animal species will be in serious danger of extinction. (Summary statement, Bali Conference.) [7].

    Footnote 2: “Data over the past two decades indicates that temperatures have actually declined in the upper troposphere, even though there has been some minor upward trends in temperature at sea level and lower altitudes. This completely contradicts conventional global warming models. Before we radically rearrange the political economy of the world because some scientists claim anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of climate change, it might be worthwhile for anyone taking a position on the topic to consider whether or not this is indeed “well settled science.” Dr. Richard Lindzen, MIT, March 2008.

    6 August, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    • John Twidell

      A simple Google search of ‘Sven Hendiksen (Nobel Prize for Peace Keeping Forces, not Science, turns up the following response to the out-of-date letter. I suggest people see the references given in this response below.

      15 April 08
      Climate Science-by-Letter is Not Science
      Tags: Don Parkes, global warming, Hans Schreuder, IPCC, Newsbusters, noel sheppard, Page van der Linden, Piers Corbyn, Political Spin, Skeptic Generated News, Svend Hendriksen
      BREAKING NEWS from the Newsbusters Global Warming Denier Clearinghouse!

      Well, it was BREAKING! yesterday, anyway. Noel Sheppard posted:

      Nobel Prize-Winning Peacekeeper Asks UN to Admit Climate Change Errors
      … six months [after Al Gore and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize], a fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient is part of a group asking the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “admit that there is no observational evidence in measured data going back 22,000 years or even millions of years that CO2 levels (whether from man or nature) have driven or are driving world temperatures.”

      The meandering nonsense in the letter that Newbusters quotes includes “If you [the IPCC] believe there is evidence of the CO2 [climate change] driver theory in the available data please present a graph of it… [M]ore recent data shows that in the opposite sense to IPCC predictions world temperatures have not risen and indeed have fallen over the past 10 years while CO2 levels have risen dramatically.”

      Never mind that you can find plenty of relevant graphs and data on the IPCC website.

      That’s not the point here.

      First of all, we have the usual denier modus operandi known as “science by letter or petition” versus “science by peer review.” The individuals who signed the letter did not present a peer-reviewed scientific study for consideration; it’s more of a pub conversation over a few web links than “science”.

      Secondly – and most importantly – it is becoming patently clear that Mr. Sheppard cannot use Google. Let’s take a trip on the “Internets” and see exactly who the letter’s signatories are.

      The “Nobel Prize-Winning Peacekeeper” to whom Sheppard refers is Svend Hendriksen (Nobel Peace Prize 1988 , awarded to UN Peacekeeping Forces. I assume Hendriksen was one of the peacekeepers).

      It turns out that Hendriksen is the publisher of a website, “The Greenland Art Review”, in which he presents some of his art history theories, as well as his views as a global warming denialist.

      He presents a rather, um, unusual analysis of An Inconvenient Truth. He claims that the film has “Rorschach phenomenon and hidden messages” (see the pdfs on his site, as well as the image linked in his art forum post here). To say the least, it’s unconventional, verging on the bizarre.

      As if that wasn’t enough to discredit the letter to the IPCC, the other signatories don’t help its credibility either.

      Hans Schreuder is an analytical chemist who runs ilovemycarbondioxide.com.

      He rants about graffiti tagging, tells us to “be good, PLANT TREES, NOT BOMBS,” and says that “there is absolutely NO proof whatsoever that carbon dioxide has any influence on our climate, not even a minute one. ALL “proof” is based on theories and computer models, not actual direct evidence – cause there ain’t none!” It is not clear exactly how his “calculations” (much less, his education in analytical chemistry) are relevant to the “analysis” presented in the letter.

      Piers Corbyn is the proprietor of weatheraction.com. His specialty is predicting the weather as far as a year ahead of time; you can even buy his horoscope forecasts. His techniques are apparently proprietary.

      And last, but not least, is Dr. Don Parkes, “Prof. Em. Human Ecology, Australia”. A little digging reveals a few publications. Human Ecology is an interesting and relevant area of study (especially in light of the world’s changing climate), but it’s a stretch as to how Parkes’ academic career applies to the claims presented in the letter.

      The letter was copied to two members of the Global Warming Denier Hall of Shame: John Christy and Roy Spencer.
      Hardly a case of scientific peer review.

      More like “preaching to your own choir”, and regurgitation by Mr. Sheppard.

      Shameful, predictable, and tiresome.

      6 August, 2009 at 6:51 pm

      • Brian Skittrall

        Although I am unconvinced about either view of AGW (I am too busy fighting INAPPROPRIATE windfarm applications to do the research), I am convinced that there has not been a proper debate because anyone who questions AGW has been shouted down and treated like a heretic. AGW has essentially become a religion.

        I am, however, convinced that the IPCC position did not have a proper peer review becuase I have heard scientists who were listed as part of the IPCC despite asking for their names to be withdrawn because they did not agree with the science.

        The remark that I particularly remember went something like “I got the impression that we were allowed to change the grammar and punctuation, but not question the science”.

        We desperately need OPEN debate about AGW and proper funding for research for INDEPENDENT academics who wish to research other theories. If the AGW argument is irrefutible, then the research will only bolster the AGW case by failing to prove the case or by failing a peer review.

        Just with MPs expenses, the most powerful weapon is transparency. By simply denouncing anyone who questions AGW it simply leaves the door wide open for conspiracy theories.

        One final question – What happens if the AGW theory is wrong?

        7 August, 2009 at 9:03 am

  25. Brian Gallagher

    Seeking to discredit the messenger is simpler than paying due attention to the message. But this might not impress those who consider that choosing the right path for humanity at this critical time is rather important. What is decided now will influence generations to come for good or ill.

    Professor Twidell quotes The colourful DeSmogBlog Newsbuster website which I note is “led by Jim Hoggan, founder of James Hoggan & Associates, one of Canada’s leading public relations firms. By training a lawyer, by inclination a ski instructor and cyclist, Jim Hoggan believes that integrity and public relations should not be at odds – that a good public reputation generally flows from a record of responsible actions. His client list includes real estate development companies, high tech firms, pharmaceutical, forest industry giants, resorts and academic institutions. He is also a Board Member of the David Suzuki Foundation.”

    Well that’s all right then. Plenty of relevant scientific climate clout there.

    In case you wonder about the David Suzuki Foundation, this might help:

    “Suzuki said that scientists who deny climate change are “shills” for big corporations. He contrasted his own foundation, saying that “corporations have not been interested in funding us” and that their financial backing comes “from ordinary Canadians”. In direct contrast to his claim, however, the David Suzuki Foundation’s annual report for 2005/2006 lists at least 52 corporate donors including: EnCana Corporation (natural gas production and oil sands development), ATCO Gas, Ontario Power Generation Employees’ and Pensioners’ Charity Trust, Bell Canada, Toyota, IBM, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Microsoft, Scotia Capital, Warner Brothers, RBC, Canon and Bank of Montreal.”

    Some people have a “conflict of interest” – this means their judgment is unduly influenced by money. “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,” as Upton Sinclair wryly observed.

    Does Professor Twidell’s ‘interest’ in the British Wind Energy Association trade body and related alignments influence his thinking? You might think that … I couldn’t possibly comment.

    The questions raised in the previous post remain unanswered. If they are all without foundation, it will be a simple matter to deal with them.

    6 August, 2009 at 10:03 pm

  26. Brian Gallagher

    Brian Skittral’s “unconvinced” position is entirely understandable – how do we begin to know for sure what to trust when researching? Conflicts of interest abound and it’s easy to become cynical and simply “follow the money”. Without transparency, and truly independent data from, and considered by, independent experts, there will be no end to mistrust. Son of Poll Tax?

    The incestuous relationship between politics and commerce, with ministers frequently landing plumb jobs with companies to which government contracts and other ‘favours’ were bestowed, is commonplace.

    Ed Miliband confidently states “the biggest threat to our countryside is not the wind turbine, it is climate change.” There is large and growing opposition to that highly questionable opinion from scientists and the general public.

    He adds: “As the RSPB said, “climate change is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, threats facing wildlife over the next 100 years”.” This is from a charity which has enraged a large number of its members by paying an EU think tank with a known pro-wind agenda for an entirely predictable report. The sickest part is that the RSPB makes money by selling so-called ‘green’ wind electricity. The National Trust is at it too. Conflict of interest is alive and well.

    It has been established that mortality of “protected-by-law” bats, where there are turbines, is usually the result of barotrauma which causes their lungs to explode. The tiny bodies are carried away by predators in the night making the true scale of carnage difficult to assess. Raptors are yet another known victim of blade tips travelling at up to 200 mph. Country people have observed that where turbines are installed, there is a very considerable decline in the presence of wildlife. The Silent Spring revisited. So RSPB support for a cripplingly expensive, destructive technology that does not reduce CO2 cannot be forgiven.

    The planet’s ecosystem is plainly under threat. Others have rightly pointed to the overpopulation problem. Which makes choosing the right direction from here vital.

    “One final question – What happens if the AGW theory is wrong?” is not an unreasonable thing to ask in all the circumstances.

    7 August, 2009 at 1:42 pm

  27. This may be a suitable place to thank Ed Miliband for some reassuring points in his letter regarding my concerns over wind farms in the North East,now and in the future
    (The letter was elicited by my MP April 2009)

    The reassurance refers to the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC)
    “In the case of new rewwable energy generating plants, only those onshore proposals with a total generating capacity of more than 50MW will be determined by the IPC
    As in any planning decision residential amenity will be an important consideration for the IPC
    In the case of new proposed onshore and offshore wind farms,aviation will also be a relevant consideration for the IPC”

    18 August, 2009 at 12:33 pm

  28. I have read many of the comments made as part of this discussion and feel compelled to add my own as someone who is a historian and archaeologist, married to a scientist. We live in a small, farming, medieval village on a ridge looking up into Teesdale in County Durham, across towards the Yorkshire Dales, and across towards Durham City. I am fighting an Npower proposal to build 7 125m high wind turbines on a site that starts about 250m from the edge of the village. The turbines will provide a backdrop to our village which will destroy for the rest of my life at least the ‘sense of place’ and what makes this place so special. It will be done, as I believe, in the name of profit, but without doing what they are supposed to do, that is, save us from the very real threat of global warming. I bitterly resent the kind of comments made by Ed, and more recently by John Prescott. We live in a democracy, and for democracy to work, informed citizens have an obligation to learn and inform themselves (as we are doing – as are many people like us) and then voice our concerns as loudly and as rationally as we can.

    I have repeatedly asked Ed Miliband for a meeting – for people like myself who feel, as Jane Davies has said – that our lives are about to be blighted and no-one is listening seriously to our concerns. I am now asking for this meeting as a representative of NAWAG – the National Alliance of Windfarm Action Groups – and urge everyone else who is in the same situation as us to do the same. Ask your MP, your MEP’s – everyone you can think of to support this – as so far Ed is avoiding us like the plague. We are people who have a right to be heard – not maligned and abused and accused essentially of only thinking about ourselves. I am thinking about the future. I do not want a future in which we are left with thousands of white elephants, with no money left in the kitty to solve the very real problem of providing power and dealing with climate change.

    So – contact everyone you can think of – pressurise Ed Miliband to get off his high horse – or out of his safe ivory tower – to come and listen to what are very rational, and genuinely held conerns.

    29 August, 2009 at 8:01 am

    • Bev

      Like Trish we are fighting npower here near Cambridge. We too are horrified at the extraordinary arrogance the Sec of State Miliband in his recent statements. This coupled with the out burst from Prescott makes me feel the current government, knowing they have little time to exist, are on a scorch earth policy to spite and screw the incoming Government with uncontrollable policies, bad dept and runaway chaos.

      So many people having been forced to look at the energy policy of the current government due to wind farm invasions. It is painfully obvious the ministers have been conned and manipulated by the energy companies and venture capitalists. The whole exercise is based on money and lots of it and nothing to do with climate change, CO2 reduction or even renewable energy.

      Come on Miliband, have the guts to meet us. Perhaps it is time for you have a Damascus moment.

      29 August, 2009 at 10:07 am

  29. Brian Gallagher

    Ed Miliband has lost the debate. He has been defeated by the blindingly obvious fact that unreliable wind generation cannot replace proper baseload power stations. Turbines are a cripplingly expensive dead end. The obsession with them gets in the way of devising an energy strategy that will work to keep the lights on and our economy safe.

    Remember – one third of our aging power stations are close to being shut down leaving an inevitable energy black hole which wind cannot ever fill however much spin government generates. Typical wind conditions will deliver disappointing amounts of electricity. Wind speed below about 18 mph will produce amounts hardly worth measuring by the time it reaches the consumer. It really is that simple.

    Can wind reduce CO2 – the primary objective? Not a chance … read http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,606763,00.html We are expected to swallow computer modelled climate data for decades in the future based on a theory most scientists reject. How about honest wind industry and climate data based on facts gathered over the last 30 years? If available hard CO2 evidence is not placed in the public domain – small wonder people conclude this is a money-driven scam backed by target-driven politicians who want to be “seen to do something”.

    Miliband and other ministers are not behaving as accountable public servants acting in the interests of those they are supposed to represent. The BWEA trade body knowingly lies about public support (and much else) when it claims 80% of people are in favour of the subsidised industrialisation of our countryside with turbines. Poll after poll shows massive opposition – clearly reflected in these postings – but the government has done nothing to correct it.

    Government publications about public participation in wind schemes require developers to consult with the public at every stage. It is common knowledge that developers refuse to attend public meetings because they know they’ll be in for a roasting. Has any minister intervened? Of course not. This is the measure of government window dressing designed to justify an agenda set in concrete. The government listens to nothing that does not conform precisely to its own prejudices.

    The sickening thing about wind turbines is how stupidly and obviously irrelevant they are in real world energy terms. It is a symptom of governmental short term, quick-fix, thinking that we are having what is essentially a sterile ‘debate’ when there should be clear focus on reducing energy waste while honest renewables are developed. In the meantime, we should act on the advice of Professor James Lovelock and abandon wind because it doesn’t work.

    I joined the CPRE because I believed the charity would defend our countryside against unjustified attack from any quarter. CPRE President Bill Bryson has shown a capacity for researching and demystifying science. If asked, I’m sure he would relish discussing what is known about climate and much else with Prof Lovelock, energy generation with Prof Ian Fells, energy economics with Prof Dieter Helm, negative turbine health impact with Dr Nina Pierpont and Robert, Professor Lord May, and challenging inappropriate wind development with Angela Kelly, Chair of Country Guardian. The Renewable Energy Foundation would be another good port of call along with expert contributors who have posted here.

    When this has been done, CPRE will reasonably want to modify its ‘Vision for the countryside’ in respect of energy and rural protection, if it has not already done so in the light of postings on this and the Caroline Lucas page.

    31 August, 2009 at 9:22 am

  30. Tony Leatham

    Brian Gallagher makes some incredibly important points, and I am especially in favour of his suggestions about the role the CPRE can play in this debate.

    I feel this particularly keenly because, as an opponent to a wind farm in rural South Leicestershire, I have had the misfortune to come across the Leicester CPRE branch who have refused to object to any of the plethora of wind farm schemes being touted for the region. They seem to have adopted an aggressively pro-wind stance, which is at odds in my opinion with the stated aims of the CPRE.

    So much so that our local MEP wrote to the chair of CPRE asking him to investigate. Needless to say, nothing came of this, but it would be nice to think that when you go and defend your local countryside, you can rely upon the support of the CPRE.

    31 August, 2009 at 9:32 am

  31. Tony

    You can in Co Durham

    wind-farm.co.uk is worth a visit
    It is not practical to put ten years research on this blog, ten years on a daily basis and with only 3 weeks respite,one to climb Kinabalu and two to climb Kilimanjaro

    Ed Miliband kindly answered my concerns in a four page letter a few months ago and I must thank him for that Sadly his advisors got it wrong so who advises the advisors?

    1 September, 2009 at 8:39 am

  32. Ron Williams

    Hope Mr Miliband reads the letters here.

    If he does, I invite him, or his department on his behalf, to purchase and to read this new bokk, to digest its contents and will then see the folly of crusading wind farm developments.

    ‘Wind Farm Scam’

    by Dr. John Etherington – former Reader in Ecology, Thomas Huxley Medallist at the Royal College of Science and former co-editor of the Journal of Ecology

    I would’nt mind betting he will not reply!!!!!!!!


    Ron Williams

    4 September, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  33. ” Go to http://www.stacey-international.co.uk/v1/index1.asp and click the book-cover to go to ordering”

    Have sourced a link to the book. Hope it will be useful for Ed Miliband who is so busy and who took time to reply to my concerns

    Posted as a community member

    5 September, 2009 at 1:14 pm

  34. Martin Brown

    In the dash to put up as many windfarms as possible the government appears to have lost sight of the basic laws of physics. A lot of the installations in lowland England cannot possibly reach their target generating efficiency because they are in locations with too low a mean wind speed. And that is ignoring the reliability problems – the ones I pass most often have sometimes 2 out of 3 feathered or non-rotating. More typical installations always seem to have one in ten dead in the water. I would very much like to see the economics of some of these sites. My instinct is that they are being built to farm the available grants rather than the wind.

    A map of UK windspeed is online at:

    Unless a site is at least lime green or preferably yellow the wind farm is destined to operate inefficiently. The 2MW units planned for a village near me give full rated output with a windspeed of 12m/s (and above up to 25m/s). But because power output scales as the cube of the windspeed on a typical day with 6m/s windspeed it will only deliver 12% of rated output.

    To put it another way for every 8 2MW units installed at this location very close to the edge of a village just one unit installed in a windy area with 12m/s average would provide the same power to the grid. It might help ministers to go on about total installed capacity but it makes no sense at all if the windfarms are unable to deliver anything like their rated power.

    David McKay of Cambridge University has done a reasonable analysis to put bounds on what might be possible for UK wind.
    (his entire book is available to download online as a PDF)

    I should make it clear that I do not object in principle to windfarms, but I do think they need to be sited so that they are at least 2km from towns and villages on the prevailing downwind side. A lot of friction is coming from planning applications that seek to put wind turbines very close to quiet rural villages. Not surprisingly the inhabitants are very unhappy.

    7 September, 2009 at 4:30 pm

  35. David Clarke

    Great to read many of these contributions. How things change! Had an anti nuclear sit in in my office some time ago great to see how the sort of people who did it now say I was wrong.
    Two major points.
    1) CPRE, in its development of policy, set up a team to think. The conclusion was straightforward. “HMG must publish a costed plan for energy which will guarantee supply at an internationally affordable price”
    The politicians could not allow this to happen because it would show how ineffective their proposals were.
    2) By setting targets in MW rather than MWH the government promotes wind turbines rather than (e.g.) wood burning, ground source energy etc. It is cheap to build wind turbines but they ony give, for every 100MW nominal capacity, about 27.5% output. A wood burning station of – say – 35MW would produce as much and produce it predictably but not meet the target! My responses from HMG when asking questions have all shown that the politoicians either don’t understand this or that they won’t admit their mistake.

    Three further points.
    1 I agree that wind turbines can fail but all forms of energy production have caused accidents. One report shows thay Hydro is worst of all and we all know that coal kills miners and so on. I have seen no figures that wind is as dangerous as other forms of power production – we should always try and compare things rather than just say no. The anti wind case is strong without exaggerations.
    2 The cost of energy production for cars using wind has been ascertained in Denmark. In simple terms the cost, untaxed, is equivalent to the taxed cost in UK.
    3 WE should all be aware of the dangers of “Clean” coal. I understand that to produce electricity from “clean” coal takes 43% more coal per unit produced to use than normal production. This makes clean coal seem a bad idea – think of the mining damage and the use of chemicals to remove the sulphur etc.

    David Clarke CPRE N Yorks

    9 September, 2009 at 9:50 am

  36. Brian Gallagher

    David Clarke raises some interesting points.

    Things have certainly changed in nuclear energy generation. Waste from fast breeders isn’t the issue it once was. As in one of my earlier posting links, Prof James Lovelock would welcome some waste buried in his back garden to provide warmth for free! Temperatures are reported to have been declining for the last 12 years. Strange that – if there honestly is a direct correlation between rising CO2 concentrations and rising temperatures.

    “A costed plan for energy”! what a novel idea for comrade Miliband to think about … and bury in his back garden. Agreed – the great wind scam does show politicians in an odd light – but they never admit being wrong. And it doesn’t get much more wrong than trying to con us into believing intermittent wind can deliver essential baseload energy; that it won’t create fuel poverty; and that it has the slightest chance of reducing CO2 levels. But turbines are most certainly an in-your-face reminder that government is doing something … pity it’s the wrong something. Spin made manifest.

    Christopher Booker in a recent article pointed out that “The 2,300 turbines so far built in Britain supply barely 1 per cent of our power, less than a single medium-sized conventional power station.” Even Ed Miliband should be capable of working out the significance of that.

    Turbine related mishaps seem quite commonplace. And if we have 40 times the present number to reach the preposterous 40% renewables target ‘aspiration’, there will be many more injuries in the UK. For a 72 page database of accidents, including numerous fatalities, up to the end of last year – visit http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/fullaccidents.pdf That might possibly be considered an unavoidable trade off if turbines didn’t ‘cost the earth’ and needed permanent conventional power station backup for the majority of time they don’t generate adequately.

    As for ‘clean coal’, the additional cost implications of cleansing are known – also that the technology doesn’t yet exist and may never materialise. Another good reason for nuclear which, as Prof Lovelock points out, is not a panacea … just the only sensible short to medium term solution available to us if we want our lights to switch on, and our economy not to collapse. Warmist Miliband needs to work on that and stop insulting protesters against wind stupidity who are capable of joined up thinking.

    9 September, 2009 at 5:30 pm

  37. Brian Gallagher

    A contributor to the debate has written this timely letter. Only reliable baseload energy generation solves the problem … intermittent wind turbines are incapable of delivering it. Did Ed Miliband think this through – if not, why not?

    There is rapidly growing public awareness that destroying precious rural England (indeed, all of Britain), with ruinously expensive political virility symbols that don’t work, is unforgivably daft. The CPRE’s role as a defender of our countryside is critically compromised by aligning with the great wind scam.

    Daily Mail, Thurs 10/9/09.

    Energy Earthquake

    Christopher Booker sounds a warning on future power cuts [Mail], and the first tremors of this energy earthquake are already toppling employment in the UK.

    Wylfa nuclear power station in North Wales, for example, will soon close, and the imminent removal of its constant electricity supply is forcing the closure of Anglesey Aluminium, N Wales’s largest employer and a huge creator of local wealth. The green organisations have untruthfully persuaded gullible politicians that wind power and other renewables could replace conventional and nuclear power stations, creating a fool’s paradise and blocking any attempt to bridge this energy gap.

    Dr John Etherington

    14 September, 2009 at 10:29 am

  38. Brian Gallagher

    The truth about Denmark’s failed wind energy programme.

    This CEPOS report exposes the reality behind what politicians, wind developers and the ‘green’ movement have been feeding the British public. Ed Miliband and CPRE leaders need to read it cover to cover.

    Far from being the ‘success story’ claimed, alleged CO2 reduction and other ‘benefits’ are fiction. Yet another plank attempting to support the rickety wind structure has been blown away. Time for a reality check and government focus on proper, baseload, energy generation before it’s too late.


    16 September, 2009 at 6:14 am

  39. Michael Tinsley

    Everybody today understands the need to change the way in which we produce energy and how we use it so freely.
    Lack of forsight by politicians over many years has brought our country to the point of losing our ability to produce the energy we need.
    The energy crisis can and will be resolved – we are surely not such slaves to Europe(yet)that we can’t say to them that we can’t shut down our old power stations as promised we need to keep them on stream for longer.
    Putting up ever more wind turbines is no substitute for real power production. It is totally beyond my comprehension that the government can be so misled over the onshore wind turbine issue.
    The only in favour comment comes entirely from government or wind energy sources – all independent comment tells how utterly useless these things are. It would be a joke if it wasn’t for the cost to the tax payer in providing the massive subsides required by the developers and the ruination of what is left of our countryside.
    To say that every right thinking person supports wind power and only Nimby’s don’t is developer clap-trap. Yes, people are OK about wind power on balance – until it becomes a reality in their own locality. This is the point at which people start to make serious enquiries and suddenly find the truth. It is outrageous that that these massive industrial structures with limited value can be imposed upon us by politicians blind to the facts,blind to what they are doing to our countryside and wllbeing, blind to the fact that it is OUR money that funds the whole ill-thoughtout escapade.

    7 October, 2009 at 9:31 am

  40. Brian Gallagher

    Well said Michael Tinsley

    It’s heartening that the government’s new chief scientific adviser on ‘climate change’ appears to agree.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6860181.ece for the full piece

    October 4, 2009
    Professor David MacKay: Britain ‘must go nuclear’ to control climate

    He has calculated that renewable energy sources such as wind and tidal power will never provide more than a fraction of Britain’s electricity needs.

    He added: “Britain could never live on its own renewables. If the aim is to get off fossil fuels, we need nuclear power or solar power generated in other countries’ deserts, or both.”

    MacKay, who will advise Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December, stressed he was not personally pro-or anti-nuclear. “My point is that whatever energy sources we choose, the sums have to add up,” he said.

    At the heart of his thinking lies a prediction that, by 2050, Britain will need three times more electricity-generation capacity than it has now.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article6860191.ece for the full supporting piece

    October 4, 2009
    The future is green, the future is nuclear

    The excellent Christopher Booker is on form at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/6257987/What-makes-Met-Office-long-term-forecasts-so-wrong.html and what an impressive array of comments (started expertly by Phillip Bratby who writes here)

    In the light of this new ‘reality’, could I ask the CPRE leadership to reconsider its attitude toward wind turbine installations?

    7 October, 2009 at 10:49 am

  41. John Twidell

    Martin Brown is misinformed on several counts.

    1. The extra payments to renewables electricity are all per unit of electricity generated, and not per unit of capacity. Thus the extra finance is only earned if the generators function.

    2. He muddles ‘generating efficiency’ with ‘installed capacity’. The installed capacity is generated in moderately strong wind speeds (usually about 12 m/s) and in stronger winds. At slower wind speeds, which are more probable, the generation is less than maximum.

    3. Therefore the average generation is less than the maximum. The ratio of electricity generated in the year to the notional amount that would be generated at full capacity continuously is the ‘capacity factor’. The later is generally about 20% in midlands UK and more than 30% in windier regions, such as most of Scotland.

    4. At turbines does not rotate when the wind speed at that turbine is less than ‘cut in’ (about 3.5 to 4 m/s), for a short period every day to allow automatic greasing, during maintenance or when requiring repair. None of these factors need apply to all the turbines on a windfarm at the same time. Hence Martin Brown’s observation that not all turbines rotate always.

    5. The return on investment is private to the windfarm companies and their shareholders. Depending on the cost and conditions of loans, the financial return can be expected as between 2% and 5% per year in the early years, and more than this when loans have been repaid.

    6. I suggest that people wising to understand windfarms buy some shares in a wind cooperative (e.g. through Energy4All) and then come to the AGMs and site visits. They will find these very happy occasions.

    John Twidell

    Leicestershire LE16 8DH
    01858 555 204

    24 March, 2010 at 2:48 pm

  42. Brian Gallagher

    Once again John Twidell has failed to declare his conflict of interest. Brian Skitrall and Phillip Bratby made clear in Question 6 that this is not on. They are right.

    Let’s recap. AGW (man made global warming) is not settled science. Any qualified person asserting that it is either has an infinite capacity for self deception, or (setting aside politics and ideology) is mesmerised by the prospect of making large amounts of money at the public’s expense.

    If there is a direct correlation between rising Co2 levels and warming, why have temperatures been falling these last 10 or more years – perhaps because the predicted cooling period has already started? It is stated that in the past, Co2 levels have been 10 or more times higher than at present without catastrophe. It is also reported that crop yields have benefitted significantly from the Co2 increase. Climate changes naturally as it did during the Medieval Warm Period followed by the Mini Ice Age. That is an inconvenient truth Gore, Pachauri etc can no longer try to airbrush away.

    It is fitting that the flawed AGW hypothesis should have such a crackpot ‘solution’. Reliance on wind to fill the looming power black hole defies science and logic. At a time when our budget deficit is the highest in peacetime history, it beggars belief that our leaders want to blow £billions on a technology to replace fossil fuel use – but it has to be backed up by fossil fuel generation megawatt for megawatt because it fails to deliver most of the time. That’s paying twice. Pure Monty Python.

    Proof can be found at http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm Scroll down to ‘Generation By Fuel Type (table)’. As I write, the wind contribution to total UK demand has averaged 0.9% over the last 24 hours. That is from about 2900 turbines costing consumers £billions now and into the foreseeable future. Output would have been intermittent and unpredictable, but at such a derisory ‘performance’, it is pretty much irrelevant. But you can see the problem if we were to become reliant on wind for 20% or more of demand. Brownouts and blackouts will occur without additional investment in fossil fuel generation.

    In case you wondered, during the long, bitterly cold winter months, when demand was at its height, wind wasn’t registering on the reports above because of windless, typical cold weather anticyclonic conditions sitting over us. So much for “the wind is always blowing somewhere” falsehood.

    Wake up politicians … wind isn’t working.

    BTW if you really want to understand wind farms, read Dr John Etherington’s ‘The Wind Farm Scam’. As an ecologist, with no conflict of interest, you can trust his painstakingly researched findings.

    24 March, 2010 at 6:06 pm

  43. Mike Coleman

    I would like to correct one minor error in John Twiddells Response. That is wind is more than doubly subsidised. Yes we have to have an equivalent capacity of relaible generation to cater for when the wind does not blow but on top of that and the government subsidy for wind there are hidden subsidies too paid for by the consumer.

    Firstly the national grid has to be redesigned to cater for the particular characteristics of wind and then we have to provide the grid connections too. None of this comes cheap and all gets hidden in the bils we eventually have to pick up. Wind is the greatest deception perpetrated by government and the climate change debate is being used to assist in meeting government aspirations and debt repayment. In short climate change is a great new tax raising ruse.

    24 March, 2010 at 9:34 pm

  44. Rita Sinclair

    Mr Twidell’s point 1. may soon have to be struck out – in February Ed Miliband said a ‘more interventionist’ policy is needed, such as introducing payments to developers for INSTALLED CAPACITY – in addition to electricity generated! See:

    What’s next: pay developers for every wind turbine application they submit? It’s just as lunatic an idea, but he’s awfully good at dreaming them up.

    24 March, 2010 at 10:33 pm

  45. Brian Skittrall

    Why is it that proponents of wind can never tell the whole truth? John Twidell starts talking about return on investment and then switches to net profit as if they were the same thing. If you develop using a loan and not capital, then you have not made an investment on which to make a return. Any profit from no investment is good business.

    The income for a site can more or less be derived from the ROCs claimed. This shows how much (or how little) electricity has been produced and the income can be derived given the trading price of ROCs & feed in price for the electricity.

    Profit levels of 2-5% in the early years can only be so low if there are substantial capital repayments on the loan. When you take the loan out of the picture, the return on investment is obscene, which is why AGMs of Energy4all are such happy occasions.

    I guess that it is wise to repay loans early because the current gravy train can not go on indefinitely. As the proportion of renewables in the grid increases, the impat on electricity prices will make the UK even less compettitive and the current ROI for developers is excessive. Lower levels of ROCs for onshore would also make offshore more attractive.

    Incidentally, turbines can be left to freewheel (with the generator disengaged) in low winds because they are more stable & it circulates the lubricants. Just because the blades are turning does not mean that the turbines are generating.

    24 March, 2010 at 11:34 pm

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