Conflicting Environmental Goods

Caroline LucasCaroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party, gave CPRE’s 2009 Annual Lecture on ‘Reconciling Conflicting Environmental Goods’ on Thursday, 9 July.

We’ve posted an edited version of the speech (click here for the full version) below for you to read and comment on, and will be passing your comments on to Dr Lucas. We will be wrapping up the debate with some final comments from Dr Lucas and Shaun Spiers, CPRE’s Chief Executive, toward the end of the month.



Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak this evening.

I’d like to start by paying tribute to CPRE for the critical role it plays, not only in actively protecting our environment, but also in contributing to the vital debate over how we develop broader agreement about the value we place on the countryside, and how we best maintain and improve it.

That has never meant pickling it in aspic, refusing to allow it to change. As long ago as the 1920s, CPRE’s very first President, Lord Crawford, put it very well, when he acknowledged:

’We have got to have new roads and bridges, new suburbs, new villages and perhaps new towns. Our desire is that they should be comely, and shall conform to modern requirements without injuring the ancient beauty of the land.’

That pretty much sums up the same challenge that faces us today – how to reconcile the need for development, without compromising the integrity and beauty of the countryside.

The aspect of that challenge that I’ve been asked to address today is a very particular one: how can we reconcile competing environmental objectives. The case I’ll make is that there are neither generalised, off-the-peg answers to be applied in all circumstances, nor technocratic fixes, such as cost-benefit analyses, that will make such difficult decisions for us.

Instead, I believe we need to be guided by a set of principles:

  1. Firstly, any decision must be informed by genuine engagement with those affected.Good decisions won’t be made in the abstract, but rather through a thorough understanding of the specific and concrete effects of any proposed development or initiative. To gain such an understanding, we need involved dialogue with those who are likely to be affected.How do we weigh the views of local residents against the need to protect the interests of others elsewhere (in time or space) who could be negatively affected by what appears to be a local decision, but which has more global consequences?One corollary seems to be to remember that the principle of subsidiarity doesn’t simply mean decisions made at the most local level, but decisions made at the most appropriate level – and that means that we need to explore ways of hearing the voices of the wider, global community.
  2. Secondly, in addition to being informed by the views of stakeholders, we need to take decisions informed by the best available scientific evidence. Robust scientific research into climate change and our impact on the environment needs to be marshalled in support of sound decision-making.
  3. Thirdly, we need to be wary of setting up false dichotomies between supposedly competing environmental objectives, and instead think creatively and innovatively about possible alternatives that may eliminate, or at least reduce, any unintended negative consequences.

Competing environmental objectives

As soon as the topic of competing environmental objectives was proposed, I was prompted to reflect on two of the most high profile recent instances where respected environmentalists and environmental organisations found themselves on opposing sides. Both examples revolved around energy: the need to provide cleaner, renewable forms of energy, on the one hand, and the need to protect natural habitats, wildlife and landscapes on the other.

Severn Barrage

The first example that came to mind was the proposed tidal barrage on the Severn, near Bristol. With the potential to generate nearly 5% of all the electricity consumed in England and Wales – the equivalent of three nuclear power stations – it is not difficult to see why some environmentalists looking for cleaner forms of energy, with the urgency of climate change becoming more apparent every day, would be in favour.

But the Severn is also a unique natural environment and landscape. It has a 45-foot tidal range – the second largest in the world – and the outgoing tides leave large areas of mudflats, saltmarshes and rocky islands, and food for an average 65,000 birds in winter. It is also used by an estimated 30,000 salmon and tens of thousands of shads, lampreys and sea trout use the estuary to reach spawning grounds in the Usk and Wye rivers.

Fault lines soon emerged among environmentalists in the debate over whether the development should go ahead. The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) came out in favour, but with strict conditions attached. But a coalition of environmental groups, including the RSPB, WWF and National Trust, launched a campaign to oppose the proposed development. Their concern was with the threat posed to wildlife, habitat and with disruption to landscape.

In the Green Party, I remember, we had robust debates. As the political party that for longer than any other in the UK has called for the adoption of renewable energy to reduce damaging carbon emissions, the decision over whether to support the tidal barrage in the face of mounting evidence of the impact on local habitats and landscape was a difficult one to take. In the end, we decided that on balance we could not support it: that it had the potential to be a damaging, and wasteful, gamble.

The decision-making process within the Green Party over the barrage, and also the public debate that ensued in the media among the various environmental actors, are a good illustration of the principles that I put forward as guides for decision-making when competing environmental objectives come into play:

  1. The debate showed very clearly that we cannot take decisions at an abstract level. They must always be informed by the specific and concrete impacts on the local environment, including landscape and community, and stakeholders must be involved in helping us understand these.
  2. Secondly, decision-making must be based on sound evidence. The coalition of environmental groups and SDC presented robust scientific evidence on the likely effects on habitats and wildlife of the development and, conversely, also of the likely impact on carbon emissions from energy production if it went ahead.
  3. Finally, the debate in the Green Party and among the environmental groups avoided falling into a false dichotomy between clean energy in the form of the tidal barrage, on the one hand, and protecting habitats and landscapes on the other.

Instead, we put forward alternative, potentially more cost-effective, means of meeting renewable energy targets. These included smaller renewable projects in the Severn area that would not come with the large attendant risks to habitats.

Cost-benefit analyses

At this point, I want to sound a note of caution about technocratic fixes. When we, or governments, are faced with difficult decisions, it is tempting to seek out tools that, cloaked in a veneer of objectivity, appear to be able to make such decisions for us.

When it comes to decision-making about conflicting environmental objectives, the most common and most developed fixes are often cost-benefit analyses that use economic value to translate competing environmental ends – such as reduced emissions, the preservation of bio-diversity, and protection of landscapes – into a common language in order to make the relative value of these, and the trade-offs between them, visible.

But we should be cautious about cost-benefit analyses, both for practical and philosophical reasons.

Most fundamentally, these tools ultimately only ever have the appearance of being objective – the process of valuation that underpins them is always necessarily subjective no matter how developed techniques of economic valuation might be.

After all, if we return to the example of the Severn tidal barrage, who is to say what value it has for the 65,000 birds that feed there? Or the worth of the preserved natural landscape? Or the wetlands for that matter?

In other words, how can we possibly put an objective price on the intrinsic value of our environment? Value that comes from resources like food and water, as well as from the contribution made by landscape, beauty, tranquility, distinctiveness and quality of place to our whole experience of life.

Cost benefit techniques can only ever open up, rather than provide definitive answers to, questions about value and priorities.

More generally, there is also another reason to be cautious when deploying such techniques. By attaching monetary values to environmental outcomes, we risk giving the impression that such outcomes can indeed be traded for each other, that some kind of substitutability exists between them.

That is, in the case of the tidal barrage on the Severn, by viewing both the benefit of reduced carbon emission and the loss of habitat, wildlife and landscape in monetary terms, these diverse outcomes might seem to be able to stand in for, or compensate for, each other. Yet, can the reduced carbon emissions really substitute for the loss of birds, or the landscape?

The answer, of course, is no. This is not to say that we might not need to take a decision to prioritise reduced carbon emissions over the birdlife – there may be good reasons for doing so – but we should be fully cognisant of the fact that they are not substitutable when taking such a decision. Cost-benefit analysis can be dangerous because it masks this.

Wind farms

I now want to turn to the second example, which also relates to energy: the tension between on-shore wind farm developments and countryside preservation.

It is on this issue that the Green Party and CPRE have on more than one occasion found themselves on opposing sides.

We have not found ourselves on opposing sides, however, because CPRE has a disregard for the threat posed by climate change or the Green Party a disregard for the value of the countryside, aesthetically or otherwise. Quite the opposite is true. CPRE recognises the need to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the Green Party has a well-developed policy on the countryside.

But this is difficult terrain. And faced with the evidence in each particular case – because, again, we cannot make a decision in the abstract about the value of wind as a clean energy form versus the countryside – a judgement has to be made.

For the Green Party, however – and we make no apology for this – the threat of climate change has to be a central consideration. There is increasingly a scientific consensus that we should not exceed greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere of 450ppm – and some would argue for a much lower concentration.

If we are to provide some room for poorer countries to develop, then industrialised countries such as the United Kingdom will need to cut their emissions by 90% by 2030 – or the equivalent of 10% year on year. The scale of this challenge becomes all the more apparent when we acknowledge, as demonstrated by the latest research from the Tyndall Centre, that emissions are actually still going up.

Clean energy is clearly a major part of the solution. That’s not to say that all wind farms should always be approved, but that they will have a significant role to play – and here in the UK, we have one of the best potential wind resources in the whole of Europe.

In essence, the same principles that I outlined earlier need to be applied when deciding on wind farms.

  1. There needs to be involved dialogue with those affected. The word ‘involved’ is key here. This cannot simply be a one-sided debate, but would ideally follow a Citizen Jury model where expert witnesses are called to increase the likelihood that a shared understanding of concerns is developed and perhaps new ways of addressing concerns, such as alternative sitings, are able to emerge.
  2. Scientific evidence informs the decision-making. A good example here is the Romney Marsh wind farm in Kent – an instance where the local Green Party and CPRE did indeed find themselves on opposing sides. There was some concern about birdlife, but we argued that the weight of scientific evidence suggested, as a High Court judge later agreed in a subsequent appeal, that the risk of endangering bird life was low.
  3. Finally, we need to always be thinking creatively and innovatively to see if there is a way out of the wind farm/countryside preservation dichotomy.

Wind farms are not appropriate in every setting, but there is scope for them to become part of our countryside landscape in many places, and indeed to even be welcome additions that attract new people, as the building of viewing platforms on some turbines attests.

We also need to explore ways in which local people can derive a direct advantage from the wind farm in their locality. I’ve been excited, for example, by the emergence of community-owned wind farms, like the Westmill windfarm in South Oxfordshire.

The benefits of community ownership are not simply financial. If they were, one could simply opt instead for the potentially higher financial gains to be reaped from “goodwill payments” from corporate wind farms. But the principle relates to the inherent character of ownership, to the inclusive decision-making that community ownership necessarily creates. It is this kind of creative opportunity to enhance environmental gain with clear social benefits that is at the heart of genuine Green thinking.

Concluding: Bringing it back to the big picture

In concluding, I want to bring us back to the politics that most of us face on a daily basis. Tonight we have been concerning ourselves with competing environmental objectives and, to a lesser extent, competing social and environmental objectives. Yet, as I said right at the beginning of my speech, the main battleground still pits the interests of business and profit against people and planet.

For this reason, at the Green Party we have been putting a lot of effort into thinking about how we can redesign the economic system at this crucial juncture so that it serves us better. I set out proposals for how to do this in a recent pamphlet on a Green New Deal, which I encourage you to read.

It is clear that CPRE is grappling with that same challenge. I read CPRE’s 2026 Vision for the Countryside, published last month, with great interest. And as you put it in that document, ’There is a growing recognition that the country has been on the wrong path, that crude economism has not resulted in greater happiness, that we need a values-based politics’.

It is precisely a values-based politics that is at the heart of the Green Party’s approach, and I look forward to working more closely with you on this shared agenda of promoting urgently needed change.


61 responses

  1. Dr Phillip Bratby

    Just two comments. There is no such thing in science as a consensus. Science works on a hypothsis which may be supported by evidence but can be dismissed by a single piece of evidence against it. On climate change, there is no supporting evidence that carbon dioxide is causing any significant global warming. More scientists do not support the hypothesis that carbon dioxide is causing unacceptable global warming than actually support it.

    The second comment is that nuclear power is a very clean form of energy, resulting in very little environmental impact. One modern nuclear power station occupies a very small area of land and produces the same amount of energy as 3,000 2MW wind turbines, and it produces the energy when it is needed, not just when the wind blows. It is obvious that nuclear power is ‘greener’ than wind power. Similarly, the footprint of nuclear is much smaller than that of a barrage and again, produces energy when needed, not just twice a day, according to the tide.

    10 July, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    • Nic Best

      I cannot allow Dr Bratby’s comments to go unchallenged. A scientific hypothesis is a consensus over how factual evidence can be interpreted.
      There are two elements to the climate change hypothesis:
      i) that CO2 in the atmosphere causes global warming – I won’t go into the physical chemistry but CO2 molecules are ‘transparent’ to visible light but ‘opaque’ to infra-red, so solar radiation reaches the earth’s surface but cannot escape back into space. The climate of Venus demonstrates a possible endpoint of the process. There are very few scientists indeed who do not accept this hypothesis
      ii) that the measured increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 200 years has been generated by human activity and is not part of a ‘natural cycle’ – recalling the palaeoclimatology I was taught some 35 years ago – the earth had no virtually no icecaps and extensive warm shallow seas in the Carboniferous and Cretaceous eras, and air bubbles trapped in rocks of those periods show high CO2 levels. CO2 was removed from the atmosphere as fossil fuel deposits and as limestone (chalk) respectively – but the process took tens or hundreds of millions of years. In the last 150 years, human technology has released (back) into the atmosphere CO2 that took 150 million years to trap. The earth’s negative feedback mechanisms cannot develop systems to reabsorb this CO2 again within human timescales. In this sense, global warming is man-made – and again the vast majority of scientists accept this hypothesis.

      And – incidentally – talk of a two degree, three degree or five degree rise in average global temperature is in each case shorthand for a whole package of catastrophic climate change

      14 July, 2009 at 6:48 am

      • Dr Phillip Bratby

        Nick Best:

        You are totally incorrect on three counts.

        A hypothesis is basically a suggested explanation for the results of observation. Consensus has nothing to do with a hypothesis and science does not work on consensus. A hypothesis is something that can be tested. If the testing supports the hypothesis, then eventually the hypothesis may become accepted theory. But if the hypothesis is not supported be evidence, then it becomes forgotten. If one piece of evidence contradicts the hypotheis, then the hypothesis is wrong and is discarded.

        Secondly, CO2 absorbs and emits infra-red (IR) radiation. It does not stop IR escaping to space. In fact CO2 molecules absorbing IR can aid convection to transfer heat upwards. Eventually the earth’s atmosphere (at the top of the troposhere) radiates IR to space, mostly from water vapour, the major greenhouse gas. Some IR is also radiated directly to space from the earth’s surface through what is known as the IR window, frequencies of IR which are not absorbed by water vapour or CO2. There is more than sufficient CO2 in the atmosphere so that it is essentially opaque to IR and so adding more CO2 has very little effect, any effect being purely due to limited line broadening. To compare earth with Venus is nonsense, since the earth’s climate and atmosphere are dominated by water, nitrogen and oxygen, with CO2 being a trace gas. There are very few scientists who believe that increased CO2 can cause significant warming. The very few scientists (government funded) who support the hypothesis claim that CO2 causes some warming, which increases evaporation of water, which being another greenhouse gas futher increases warming by a positive feedback mechanism. This hypothesis is also not supported by evidence, because increased water vapour results in increased cloud cover which is a negative feedback. The earth’s climate history supports this, beacause it is warming that causes increased CO2 concentration as CO2 is released from the oceans. Cooling then causes CO2 to be re-absorbed by the oceans.

        Your third statement is similarly wrong because you again assume that CO2 causes warming. CO2 is a benefit in the atmosphere as it increases plant growth. In fact, because so much CO2 is locked up in rocks, the atmosphere today is, by historical standards, at a very low concentration.

        The current interglacial period (the Holocene) has been ongoing for about 11,000 years and temperatures today are several degrees lower than they have previously been in the Holocene and in previous interglacial periods. There were no climate catastrophies in those previous warmer epochs (whatever a climate catastrophy is). The real climate catastrophy, as far as humans are concerned, would be a return to a glacial period, and based on lengths of previous interglacials, the next glacial is overdue.

        14 July, 2009 at 8:48 pm

  2. Michael Tyce

    Caroline Lucas might be justified in a pro-windfarm stance if on the one hand the case against man-made emissions was as unequivocal as she contends and on the other if windfarms were the only – or even the most efficient – way of combatting them.

    Neither is the case. There are many other ways of acheving zero emission power, all of them morer effective, not least nuclear power (on which our neighbours in France rely). Windfarms however are hopelessly ineffient, and totally ineffective whenever the wind is not blowing at just the right speed (neither too fast or too slow) – which is most of the time – and must be backed up by other power sources. This not only doubles electricity costs but, because the only swing sources which can offset windfarm intermittency are fossil fuels, does little to reduce carbon emissions anyway.

    On top of that, when the right kind of wind isn’t blowoing, they consume electricty rather than produce it.

    It is true that the folks who have invested in turbines like them – but they would woukldn’t they when they receive a healthy “profit” derived entirely from the Government funding the rest of us are taxed to provide.

    Caroline was right to oppose the Severn barrage – but in the ultimate, if it had been built, the birds might have found homes somwehere else. She’s wrong about windfarms which are set to blight most of our countryside, as they have huge tracts of Germany, because, unlike the birds, those who glory in the English landscape will have nowhere else to go to escape their monstrous presence.

    10 July, 2009 at 1:31 pm

  3. I was very encouraged to hear from Caroline and the other speakers on this important matter. It seemed that there was consensus about the need for improved local community involvement in decision making and a desire to increase the political will behind radical policy change and incentives for everyone to change behaviour in favour of sustainable living.

    My question to Caroline (and the panellists) is how can we tackle apathy? The indifference of so many seems to be our biggest undoing. Coupled with a human ability to easily rationalise the reasons why we won’t bother and that Douglas Adams approach to ‘Somebody Else’s Problem’, how can politicians regain trust and encourage greater pressure upon politics to raise the profile of environmental issues?


    10 July, 2009 at 2:07 pm

  4. Brian Skittrall

    The biggest problem with windfarms is that there is no evidence that they result in net carbon reductions. In fact, reports from Denmark seem to indicate that they do not. When you have to emit about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 to erect a turbine, it is important that you know that it will be repaid.

    Electricity is not like water, you can not store it until you need it – it is use it or lose it.

    All the supposed benefits of wind power are based on averaged out statistics, but the output from a wind turbine is uncontrollable and highly variable. That makes it almost impossible to use effectively in the national grid where it is already difficult to match supply with variable demand with stable and controllable sources of supply.

    I have yet to meet an engineer or anyone from the energy industry who does not think that wind power is an irrelevant waste of time and money. It was alright when we only had a few toke turbines, but now that we are looking at covering our country in turbines the grid will collapse.

    A further complication is the way that priority access for wind power to the grid affects the economics of other power sources. We need to replace spmething like a third of our generating capacity over the next 10 years. How are we going to make that viable when new power stations will only be allowed to sell output when it is less windy? Wind is not reliable,so we still need a full set of power stations to cover the lack of output when we have a large anti-cyclone sitting over the country (when it is coldest in winter & hottest in summer). Unless we nationalise the electricity industry, I can not see how the new power stations will get built.

    The only things driving wind energy forwards are the huge profits available to developers, politicians who want a highly visible monument of their green credentials to attract the green vote and well meaning, misguided people who have been taken in by the spin and hype.

    11 July, 2009 at 10:29 am

    • This is really a comment to all of you. Rather then go full steam ahead for wind turbines, why are solar panels not fitted to all houses etc, especially new build? 5 years ago I had photovoltaic panels and also the water heating ones fitted to my house, I had a 40% grant . My electricity bill was more than halved – plus the bulk of the electricity I produce goes to the national grid free of charge ( it is not worth selling it, especially as the government taxes the money and no doubt the council will increase my council tax when they find out !!!)
      Doing this has not only saved me money on bills – I worked out that it was the equivalent of 4% interest taxfree, had the money been invested – and it has also increased the saleability and value of my house. For some reaswon the government is reluctant to agree each year as to how much money they will offer to give as grants (usually decided at the last minute and I believe the grant has been reduced) – therefore, despite long waiting lists, some of the companies may have to cease trading.

      5 August, 2009 at 5:39 pm

      • Brian Skittrall

        Congratulations for getting a grant before they ran out! I am impressed by your returns. I had impressive results (20% savings) that I have achieved from improving loft insulation & double glazing.

        I can not help suspecting that the reluctance to support domestic schemes is that they reduce the tax take. If we are not consuming, we are not paying VAT and power companies are not paying Corporation Tax on their profits.

        5 August, 2009 at 9:10 pm

      • Dr Phillip Bratby

        It is not surprising that the grants are virtually unobtainable. The government has put the country’s finances under huge debt (UK plc is effectively bankrupt), so where does the money come from? The taxpayers are already under considerable strain and increased taxation will only deepen the recession. Who would lend to a bankrupt to subsidise a tiny minority of households? I suspect that if we want to better insulate our homes or generate our own energy, we will have to pay for it out of our own pockets in future.

        5 August, 2009 at 9:29 pm

  5. Caroline Lucas is right in saying this can not be a one sided debate. Then why is it?

    In February a delegation from BWEA visited the Newcastle Journal (one of the leading regional publications in terms of circulation and influence) to discuss regional media issues in the North East.
    The Journal has it seemed been noted for its sceptical stance towards wind developments. The visit was initiated by BWEA, in order to address some of the myths said to be reported in the Journal, and offering an opportunity to the newspaper’s journalists to catch up on stories which were said to rarely get a mention.

    Nick Medic, BWEA Communications Manager said,
    “There is the world leading NaREC research institution, and the country’s first offshore wind farm off Blyth Harbour.* We felt there is scope for the local media to report on the benefits of wind, as opposed to running the same old myths week after week”,

    The Newcastle Journal’s Editor Brian Aitken apparently welcomed the delegation, but said: “The Journal plays a very important role as the voice of the local community. If local residents can’t come to the Journal with an issue of concern, then where can they go? We would be failing our readers and neglecting our duty if we didn’t report on objections to wind farms.”

    Mr Aitken mentioned areas of concern around the issues of visual impact of wind farms, ROCs and tourism, all of which were covered during the meeting.
    “We addressed the points raised by the Journal in detail, and revisited the most authoritative studies to date on public support for wind, impact on tourism and the cost of ROCs, amongst other issues. In this particular instance there could be scope for introducing balance in the debate for wind, particularly as beyond the narrow anti campaigning agenda, there could be many benefits for the regions as whole,” concluded Medic.

    I ask where is this balance? Where is the fairness and openness to which the public has a right? Where is the impartiality?

    Note* Blyth offshore wind farm has been described by Simon Power (responsible for the recent landscape capacity studies on wind energy in the North East) as the most inconceivable place to site an offshore wind farm.
    For seven years one wind turbine generator failed to produce any electricity and the second produced none for two years with very little the two years previous.

    The Climate Change Action Plan for County Durham has had financial support form NPower

    11 July, 2009 at 8:51 pm

  6. Richard Cowen

    Caroline Lucas raises some interesting and valuable points here but appears to deal with two different types of renewable energy in conflicting ways.

    With regard to a Severn Barrage she sensibly appears to weigh benefits against disbenefits and consider them logically. She comes down (no doubt after considerable soul searching) against the barrage on the grounds that the reduction in carbon emissions does not outweigh the loss of habitat.

    However, there surely can be little doubt that the energy produced by the Severn is predictable, reliable and constant. As Caroline says it could generate 5% of the UK’s energy (I think I have heard elsewhere it could be 7% or even higher) and we know precisely when it will do that every day. But it does it at a cost, both in monetary terms (very high) and ecological terms (perhaps even higher). The question is whether that cost is worth paying and clearly the Green Party have decided it is not. I tend to agree, especially in view of my interest as an RSPB member, but equally I can see that if we do need, for whatever reason, to increase our use of natural sources of energy, there must be considerable attractions in such a project.

    Can this be said about wind farms? Here the source of energy is anything but reliable. This year surely is a good example of this. There is a number of wind farms in my area and I have seen them idle many times this year, both in winter and recently in June and July. Even when the propellers are turning, the wind is very light so unlikely to be producing much electricity.
    Caroline says

    “Clean energy is clearly a major part of the solution. That’s not to say that all wind farms should always be approved, but that they will have a significant role to play – and here in the UK, we have one of the best potential wind resources in the whole of Europe.”

    I suppose that is not the same as saying, as is frequently said, that we have the best wind resource in Europe, but it is close. So do we, and is it reliable?

    For the most part (NW Scotland possibly excepted) I do not think we are in a significantly different wind resource area than most other parts of Europe. But even if we are, surely it is still not anything like reliable enough to provide us with the sort of energy we have come to rely upon. Just where is our energy to come from on the still days we have had this year, at least unless we are to accept intermittent supplies on a regular basis?
    Can conventional supplies really come on at the flick of a switch to maintain constant supplies? That perhaps is what we are being told the new National Grid report says, but can that really be correct? I regret I remain of the view that shadowing will in reality be required, as it has been in Europe, so that emissions reductions will be far less than has always been claimed.

    I think that if we apply the sort of tests Caroline applies in respect of the Severn Barrage, we ought to come to the conclusion that, on this ground alone, wind will not provide the answer to the problems we do have, be they climate change, pollution, limited reserves or whatever.

    This problem may not apply so much to off shore wind, but even there the wind is not completely reliable. And there is perhaps a greater risk that wind speeds off shore will be too great so that turbines have to be stopped for safety reasons

    And that is before we consider the other problems associated with wind farms – and yes that does include a risk to birds. But it also includes noise, aircraft radar, flicker and other issues as well as the effect of them on the landscape. And off shore, while they may not directly affect us in these ways, we have very limited idea as to how they will affect marine life, some of which is very sensitive to its environment. Some, like sharks and rays, may even be affected by the electricity generated.

    In my opinion, the problems with wind are being deliberately ignored and glossed over by our decision makers, something that we will come to regret bitterly in 10 to 15 years time.

    11 July, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    • Ron Williams

      Hello Richard,

      I have read your reply with interest but can’t get my head around the fact that you are still a member of the RSPB – considering their stance on wind farms. As you will read in the reply below which I received when I questioned their almost positive attitude towards these monstrocities when they oppose only 1 in ten proposals!!! – and then only when endangered species are at risk. All animal life is precious and I am amazed at the RSPB response.



      Reply from RSPB 31.03.2009

      Thomas, Claire” Add sender to ContactsTo: ronsxword@btinternet.comDear Ron,

      Thank you for taking the time to write to us about the RSPB’s position
      on windfarms. We particularly welcome feedback about our work.

      In coming to our position on windfarms, we’ve looked long and hard at
      the climate science, the impacts of global warming and the options for
      generating low carbon energy.

      We know that some people have a strong dislike of windfarms and we know
      that it has technical drawbacks. We also don’t believe that wind energy
      is the whole answer, but we firmly believe it has to be part of the
      answer if we are to combat climate change in the timescale that is

      The RSPB will continue to oppose wind farm proposals that threaten
      important wildlife and habitats, such as the defeated proposal for the
      Lewis Peatlands. On average, we oppose about one in 10 windfarm
      applications – and are sometimes heavily criticised by the industry for
      doing so. We will continue to try to ensure that windfarms are not
      built in places where they will do significant harm to wildlife.

      We know that many people are against the spread of wind turbines in our
      countryside because of their visual impact. We agree that landscape and
      heritage must be given due consideration as part of the planning
      process. Nonetheless, the urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions means we
      would be failing our primary duty to protect biodiversity, if we don’t
      support the need to press ahead with wind generation in the least
      damaging locations.

      I hope this letter goes some way to reassuring you that we haven’t
      reached our position lightly and we certainly haven’t done a U-turn as
      some media reports have suggested. While I appreciate you may still
      feel unable to agree with our position, I hope that any differences of
      view on this issue will not stop you supporting all the other work we do
      to save birds and other wildlife. We need your support more than ever
      if we are to meet the huge challenges that they face.

      12 July, 2009 at 7:15 pm

  7. Michael Tyce

    We will not have the luxury of waiting ten or twenty years to regret windfarm mania I fear. Right now the Government is increasing electricity bills with a forced levy to cover the cost of installing 7000 (pointless) windfarms, at a cost per household (they say) of £200 per year, although electricty companies put it higher.

    On top of that we are to “create” 400,000 new jobs,again all at public expense, to erect them and the new power grids needed to support them.

    Apathy is the problem says one of your correspondents – but this is not apathy by the wind farm maniacs, but amongst the sensible majority who know this is all damaging nonsense but will sit on their hands until our English landscape – and probably townscape too – is gone for ever under a sea of turbines erected at staggering expense to placate the mythical god of climate change.

    12 July, 2009 at 9:28 am

  8. Caroline’s speech was indeed interesting.

    It reminded me of Sutton’s Bed ZED the first UK large scale carbon neutral development several tears ago. Homes facing south and photovoltaic roof panels which she saw as excellent and I agreed with her comments
    Her reference to the Westmill windfarm in South Oxfordshire a community-owned wind farm reminded me of the one piece of advice I offered to a recent Teesdale proposal. That is to check their ‘business plan’ usually worked on a 30% load factor Westmill appears to have operated at about 20% in 2008

    12 July, 2009 at 12:39 pm

  9. Another dimension for Caroline Posted as a concerned member of the community not as a member of CPRE

    My published books, Force 10 and Force 10 Companion Guide (The New Lambton Wyrm) plus other relevant information are posted on my personal website (google Barningham High Moor)

    Force10/Force10 Companion Guide/ The Long Fight to save Barningham High Moor/Saddleworth power point presentation/Whinash Press Release ,Decision, Letter and Inspector’s Report/Climate Change Wind Energy and Planning power pt presentation are available for download

    Under provisions of the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, Force10, Force10 Companion Guide and Summary of the long fight to save Barningham High Moor, have been deposited with:

    The British Library
    Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
    Cambridge University
    National Library of Scotland
    National Library of Wales
    Trinity College Dublin
    As a matter of courtesy to Tony Blair, and at my request, Alan Milburn MP forwarded a copy of Force10 Companion Guide to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair Since then all 3 books simply documenting facts as a piece of social history, have been sent to several members of other parties
    None of the organisations to which I belong nor any of my family have been involved. I personally wrote and financed them so future generations will know how hard we fought to save their heritage I have buried copies of all in the area of the Stang Forest, The Greta and Barningham High Moor
    The aim of this ‘fight’ has been to protect the countryside so all can enjoy it, for its beauty, peace and tranquillity, designated or undesignated, locally, regionally or nationally, from the National Parks to the field near your home. It has not been as some would like to believe ,a fight against wind turbines.
    A recent exam paper posed this question? Whom does the countryside belong to? Those who live in it or those who visit it?. For me it belongs to us all whether we live in town or country it has so much to offer, physically and spiritually, particularly in this stressful world and should not be for sale

    12 July, 2009 at 1:40 pm

  10. Anna

    Caroline Lucas strategically avoids to mention the damaging effects windpower has on the environment or the back-up required. Her blinkered approach seems to be fundamental to all that pretends to be Green nowadays. In my view Green now equals destruction of landscapes, communities, wildlife, habitats rather than preservation. How deluded people can be… Such a shame!!! Actually, I would go as far as calling it disgraceful!

    12 July, 2009 at 6:43 pm

  11. Andy Yuille

    Caroline Lucas raises some very interesting and pertinent points. Most significant is probably her critique of cost-benefit analysis (CBA), which is the favoured tool of decision-makers. As she points out, it is in fact used as a means to avoid making hard decisions based on reasoned argument, and it conceals social commitments and value judgements under a false but highly polished veneer of objectivity.

    It’s vital to remember that, in pursuing our demands as consumers in the marketplace, we may well end up with consequences for the environment that we don’t like as citizens. Our preferences as consumers may well conflict with our values as citizens. It is therefore important to remember that the market and the planning system – while both vital – occupy different social spheres and articulate different types of imperative. Planning enables us to make choices collectively by articulating what we want, what we value, as citizens, rather than simply aggregating individual consumer preferences. CBA reflects (theoretical) consumers’ preferences, not citizens’ values.

    The processes of planning are inseparable from fundamental questions about the way in which we value and use the environment. We therefore need a robust planning system that provides institutional space for genuine public engagement, and which is able to integrate and balance a range of social, environmental and economic aims effectively. Markets respond to preferences, the planning system to values.

    The Government’s new draft Planning Policy Statement on “Prosperous Economies”, their recent and ongoing attempts to value environmental assets, features and functionings in monetary terms, along with the remit and terms of reference for the Infrastructure Planning Commission, threaten these key tenets for good decision-making.

    Algorithmic decision-making tools do not provide objective, value-free information, but rather (inevitably) present a view of the world from one particular value-laden perspective, and by virtue of their particular reductive approaches, they fail to capture the range, depth and complexity of values and issues at stake.

    Rather than this reductive process making incommensurable values directly comparable (as is the main benefit claimed for CBA), it strips them of their meaning and relevance to the real world of lived experience. They are thus less objective, in the sense of relating to objects in the real world, than an approach to decision-making that enables the reasons for judgements and values to be publicly explored, debated and assessed.

    It’s reassuring that the Green Party remains committed to making decisions based on real values, as they matter to real people. Even if CPRE sometimes disagrees with their conclusions, we can at least have a meaningful debate about the reasons for our respective judgements, rather than meaninglessly arguing about the notional monetary value of landscape versus that of an amount of carbon emissions.

    13 July, 2009 at 3:48 pm

  12. As we struggle to find some common ground (no pun intended)I see the planning goal posts are about to change again

    Abstract from article by Domenic Donatantonio, Planning, 10 July 2009
    “Around 50 organisations attended the first meeting of a coalition led by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and Friends of the Earth to petition the DCLG for an updated climate change policy.

    The coalition, which launched its initiative last month (Planning, 5 June, p1), believes that the current climate change supplement to PPS1 and PPS22 on renewable energy are now out of date.
    It said current policies reflect thinking before last year’s Climate Change Act, the UK’s commitment to generate 15 per cent of energy renewably by 2020 and the forthcoming renewable energy strategy.
    The coalition also maintained that more consideration of onshore wind energy is needed in the fight against climate change”

    So I wonder if PPS1(2005) and PPS22(2004) are out of date what about the much criticised ETSU R-97(1997)

    PPS22 states that the 1997 report by ETSU for the Department of Trade and Industry should be used to assess and rate noise from wind energy development

    I have read that in 2006 the Institute for Public Policy Research told Government “interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won, at least for popular communications. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective.”

    I have also read the tacit supposition is projected to the public that “we can do something” and that this is a fallacy
    The UK contributes only 2% of global CO2 emission.
    if as is stated electricity contributes 40% of this
    if as is stated it is not possible to obtain more than about a fifth of generation from intermittents
    then we are sacrificing our countryside for one fifth of 40% of 2%. That is 0.16% of global CO2 emissions

    So why is an updated climate change policy needed?

    13 July, 2009 at 10:24 pm

  13. Dr Phillip Bratby

    I would like to quote the words of the biogeographer, Prof Philip Stott from an article at his website, which sums up the whole nonsense that is climate change. See:

    He intoduces the article with a quote from Hans Christian Andersen’s story of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and then goes on:

    “First, we have a leader, Gordon Brown, who along with the other heads of the G8 countries, has the hubris to declaim that we have “agreed to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels”, as if climate were neatly controlled by a single dimmer light switch that can be twiddled up and down at the whim of pompous politicians. The nonsense is beyond belief, never mind beyond science. The emperor has no clothes;

    Then, secondly, we have a Met Office claiming that it can predict the weather – yes, the weather – for 25 km2 blocks of the UK in – wait for it – 70 years time. It hasn’t even got this summer right! Think again for a moment – this is stark raving bonkers. The emperor has no clothes;

    Thirdly, we are about to have a White Paper on Wednesday from Ed Miliband, the laughably-named Energy and Climate Change Secretary, which will require the construction of over 7,000 wind turbines by the year 2020. Think once again. This will involve building two giant wind turbines per day, including Saturdays and Sundays, for the next ten years, an impossibility. And the projected cost for you and me? “This weekend it also emerged that the renewable energy strategy is likely to add £200 to the average household’s utility bills. The strategy paper will say Britain needs to spend more than £100 billion on renewable energy infrastructure by 2020, including 7,000 wind turbines. This money will come from a levy on energy bills, which will have to rise by about 20%.” Splendid! It is rubbish on stilts. The emperor has no clothes;

    But even worse, the Government is threatening to offer so-called ‘green mortgages’ “to fund the installation of solar panels, wind turbines, and other energy-saving measures. Households will be able to take out the low-interest loans to pay for double-glazing, loft and cavity wall insulation and even heat pumps, which extract energy from below the ground.” This all sounds tickety-boo until you remember that, as individuals, we are a nation already deep in debt, that banks are loathe to lend anything in the current crisis, and that a significant percentage of the population is deemed too risky for any type of loan. I thus look forward, with interest, to a whole batch of sub-prime ‘green mortgages’. Help! The emperor has no clothes;

    Yet, stand back a moment further, to take note of the darker side of this ill-judged proposal: “Even listed properties, or those in conservation areas, could be affected with the government considering easing planning restrictions to allow for energy saving measures. Householders who refuse to take part in the scheme could face higher council tax rates and, when they sell, the threat of raised stamp duty for prospective buyers.” Ah yes! Virtue and Terror. Revolution! Do you not sense the early hand of a budding Maximilien Robespierre or a Saint-Just? How this would appeal to the two Eds, Miliband and Balls. We are at a dangerous political moment. The emperor has no clothes – but the ‘Supreme Being of Global Warming’ must still be worshipped at all costs;

    And, finally, of course, we have His Greenship Himself, the Prince of Wales, who even senior Government figures now regard as seriously “misguided” and even “fatuous”. His ‘clothes’ are surely made of the very finest of fabrics, a double-breasted suit spun from pure air and cucumber-collected sunshine. This emperor-in-waiting has even fewer clothes.

    In Britain, it is startlingly clear that we have finally passed Through the Looking Glass with Alice. The Red Queen, like our naked emperor, is berating us to believe “six impossible things before breakfast”.

    But I am firmly with Alice: “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

    Just so.

    How urgently we need that little child in the throng of self-delusional adults, crying: “But he hasn’t got anything on.”

    I believe it is time for a political force in the UK to uncover the nakedness of the climate-change political procession.

    And, at a mere 1.87% of world carbon emissions, a percentage falling fast, how very unimportant we are.”

    14 July, 2009 at 5:42 am

    • Nic Best

      Dr Bratby is disingenuous in implying that the climate change theory is a government conspiracy. I was taught the science behind the theory thirty-five years ago, and, in my experience, governments across the world have been very resistant to what the majority of scientists have been telling them about climate change for the last thirty years. It is only since the Stern Report spelled out the likely economic impact of climate change that governments have begun to take an interest.

      He is also disingenuous in deliberately confusing weather forecasts and climate predictions.

      We are overdue a San Francisco earthquake, an ice-age, periodic reversal of the earth’s magnetic field and a major asteroid strike and we perhaps need appropriate risk assessments. But we are actually experiencing melting ice caps, diminishing glaciers, sea level rise, changes in ocean current, changes in rainfall patterns and rapid changes in seasonal phenomenology. We are experiencing climate change. Increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which coincide with global industrialisation give perhaps the best explanation – I certainly haven’t heard any others that are as convincing – so it makes sense to take actions both to adapt to existing climate change and mitigate our best guess as to what is causing it.

      18 July, 2009 at 12:30 pm

      • Dr Phillip Bratby

        Nick Best:

        What absolute rubbish you insult me with. I don’t deny climate change. As I have said elsewhere, it has always happened and always will. There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that CO2 is causing global warming. There are plenty of factors that cause the climate to periodically warm and cool, just as there always have been.

        You quote a lot of things that are just incorrect. The ice caps are not melting; rehter they habe been increasing as the world has entered a cooling cycle. Glaciers grow and retreat; there is nothing unusual about that. Many have started to grow again. The sea levels have been slowly rising for 200 years and have not accelerated; rather, the rate of rise has recently slowed. Ocean currents are not driven by the climate; they are driven by the forces due to the earth’s rotation and the enrgy they receive in the form of short wave radiation form the sun. The oceans have in fact recently gone into a cooling mode. None of these factors can be attributed to changes in CO2 concentrations (unles you have seen some evidence that is not in the public domain). I could go on with the scientific facts, but I’m sure you will ignore the evidence in favour of Stern, that well-known economist who believes all the rubbish he is told about climate change by people paid to tell him that rubbish.

        Increases in greenhouse gases have nothing to do with the climate chnaging. Just because you have no other explanation, doesn’t mean poor old CO2 has to get the blame for your lack of knowledge of how a complex system like the climate works.

        I quote from a press release from Rice University in the USA:

        “No one knows exactly how much Earth’s climate will warm due to carbon emissions, but a new study this week suggests scientists’ best predictions about global warming might be incorrect.

        The study, which appears in Nature Geoscience, found that climate models explain only about half of the heating that occurred during a well-documented period of rapid global warming in Earth’s ancient past. The study, which was published online today, contains an analysis of published records from a period of rapid climatic warming about 55 million years ago known as the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM.

        The conclusion, Dickens said, is that something other than carbon dioxide caused much of the heating during the PETM. “Some feedback loop or other processes that aren’t accounted for in these models — the same ones used by the IPCC for current best estimates of 21st Century warming — caused a substantial portion of the warming that occurred during the PETM.”

        Were humans putting out CO2 55 million years ago? I think not. I think it was a natural climatic phenomenon; no doubt the CO2 increased as a result of outgassing from warming oceans, just as always happens when the oceans warm.

        In other words, we don’t know everything about how the climate works and the climate models used to project future climate changes are pretty well useless. It’s just as bad as the Met Office telling us last winter was going to be very mild and this summer was going to be a BBQ summer! This is the same Met Office that tells us what the climate of the different regions of England is going to be in 50 years time. You couldn’t make it up!!

        If it wasn’t so serious it would be highly amusing. And the government is wasting billions of pounds of our money on trying to solve a problem which only exists inside useless computer models.

        18 July, 2009 at 1:22 pm

  14. It would be impossible to quickly pass on to members of the community the essence of the scientific debate between Dr Bratby and Nic Best, regardless of who may be considered as presenting the more convincing argument.

    The only issue must be “Are these wind turbines really doing what was Are these wind turbines really producing the amounts of ‘green’ energy and saving the carbon dioxide emisssions
    predicted when planning permission was given?
    We deserve to know particularly as we pay that excessive covert subsidy (ROCs) without which the turbines would not be viable.

    I find it dificult to better the comments of a young lady almost a decade ago and copy them for your convenience.

    From Lilli Matson, Head of Transport and Natural Resources, Council for the Protection of Rural England, published in The Times on 19/01/99

    “Your article of January 9 paints a sorry of wind development in the UK. This is a tale which is not so much about landscape preservationists triumphing over green-energy developers as about the failure of successive governments to deliver effective policies to expand renewable energy.

    Ever since the introduction of financial subsidies for renewables in 1990, CPRE has highlighted the conflicts inherent in a system where subsidies are awarded to the cheapest projects with no reference made to their environmental impacts. This has led developers to focus on the very windiest sites, which frequently coincide with our best upland landscapes. Financial contracts have been given to projects in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and surrounding our National Parks. No wonder people cry out in defence of the landscape.

    The solution does not lie in weakening planning protection for the countryside, but in improving the way in which we fund renewable energy. This should ensure that environmentally damaging schemes are ruled out from the start and encourage a wider range of renewable technologies to be developed. The result would be less controversy over the location of renewable energy projects and more support for their growth”

    Both Whinash March 2006 and Barningham November1998 were decided by balancing potential benefits and potential disbenefits something we must not lose.
    It really is time to work together to find the solution.

    15 July, 2009 at 8:49 pm

  15. It would be impossible to quickly pass on to members of the community the essence of the scientific debate between Dr Bratby and Nic Best, regardless of who may be considered as presenting the more convincing argument.

    The only issue must be “Are these wind turbines really producing the amounts of ‘green’ energy and saving the carbon dioxide emisssions predicted when planning permission was given?
    We deserve to know particularly as we pay that excessive covert subsidy (ROCs) without which the turbines would not be viable.

    I find it dificult to better the comments of a young lady almost a decade ago and copy them for your convenience.

    From Lilli Matson, Head of Transport and Natural Resources, Council for the Protection of Rural England, published in The Times on 19/01/99

    “Your article of January 9 paints a sorry of wind development in the UK. This is a tale which is not so much about landscape preservationists triumphing over green-energy developers as about the failure of successive governments to deliver effective policies to expand renewable energy.

    Ever since the introduction of financial subsidies for renewables in 1990, CPRE has highlighted the conflicts inherent in a system where subsidies are awarded to the cheapest projects with no reference made to their environmental impacts. This has led developers to focus on the very windiest sites, which frequently coincide with our best upland landscapes. Financial contracts have been given to projects in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and surrounding our National Parks. No wonder people cry out in defence of the landscape.

    The solution does not lie in weakening planning protection for the countryside, but in improving the way in which we fund renewable energy. This should ensure that environmentally damaging schemes are ruled out from the start and encourage a wider range of renewable technologies to be developed. The result would be less controversy over the location of renewable energy projects and more support for their growth”

    Both Whinash March 2006 and Barningham November 1998 were decided by balancing potential benefits and potential disbenefits something we must not lose.
    It really is time to work together to find the solution.

    15 July, 2009 at 8:53 pm

  16. Caroline Lucas says “Firstly, any decision must be informed by genuine engagement with those affected”
    I totally agree and yet that is not what we are experiencing.

    Stephen Byers in his speech on the Planning Green Paper (26/07/01) said the system would give communities the right to express their views and that Planning must be open and transparent

    Government policy on “Best value in Planning” stated that developers must be allowed to develop and objectors allowed to object. Why then do successive energy ministers and developers term objectors as Nimby, Not in My back Yard?
    Nimby has been given a pejorative meaning by those it seem local
    democracy does not suit
    Yet it must be a fundamental right that local people have a real voice in what is done to their own community

    Still not enough attention is paid to energy efficiency and energy conservation and being careful in the use of natural resources

    Also Caroline says “….the principle of subsidiarity doesn’t simply mean decisions made at the most local level, but decisions made at the most appropriate level ”

    As I see it ‘appropriate’ is ‘local’ if people are likely to have a wind farm or any development on their doorstep.

    18 July, 2009 at 10:17 pm

  17. Caroline
    I have just read the Appeal Decision for dismissaL,dated 15th July 2009 APP/L3245/A/08/2088742 for a wind farm proposal in Shropshire
    Several paragraphs are relevant to my last post so I have copied those paragraphs for your convenience.

    43. Paragraph 39 of the Companion Guide to PPS22 reaffirms that the planning system exists to regulate the development and the use of land in the public interest. The outlook from a private property is a private interest, not a public one. However, as voiced by the Inspector in the appeal decision for a wind farm in Dover district6, when turbines are present in such number, size and proximity that they represent an unpleasantly overwhelming and unavoidable presence in main views from a house or garden, there is everylikelihood that the property concerned would come to be regarded as an unattractive and thus unsatisfactory (but not uninhabitable) place in which to
    live. It is not in the public interest to create such living conditions where they did not exist before.

    44. From the north-east and east the wind farm would be fully visible from College Fields Cottages, Dorrington Hall, and Dorrington Hall Farm. The cottages are modest dwellings on Dorrington Lane whose main aspect fromthe living rooms and front gardens is towards the proposed development. The
    Cottages would be some 750m from the nearest of the 110m high turbines. Dorrington Hall is a large residence where several of the habitable rooms face westwards towards the site. It is around 700m from the nearest turbine.
    Dorrington Hall Farm also has its main aspect views to the west looking towards the appeal site. It, too, is a little over 700m from the nearest turbine. As well as the farmhouse, this property has educational facilities for schoolchildren who visit on a regular basis.

    45. In terms of these three properties, all 7 turbines would be visible with no significant screening by vegetation or topography. Due to the relative proximity of the turbines and the lack of screening, or the potential to maskthe turbines effectively, I consider the panorama of rotating turbines would beoverwhelming, obtrusive and unavoidable to the residents of these properties.

    46. Disregarding Bellaport Old Hall, which is associated with the development, I consider that the same applies to the amenities of the residents of The Grove.
    This is a detached property with outbuildings sited a little over 700m to the west of the nearest turbine. The residents of this property, too, would xperience a grave diminution in their amenities caused by the clear vista of turbines.

    47. Bearstone Cottage, at some 690m from the nearest turbine, is the closest property to the development other than those concerned with the scheme. It is on the opposite side of the road and has an oblique view of the site, which would be partially screened by trees and hedgerows. As a result I do not
    consider that the effect would be as significantly obtrusive. Other properties, such as Orchard House Farm and The Brockhouse would obtain more distant or oblique views of the turbines, or views that would be partially screened by trees and woodland so that some turbines would only be descried.
    Nevertheless, because of the juxtaposition of the turbines in relation to thenearby properties, the outlook of many dwellings, and views from within thesettlements of Knighton and Bearstone, would be dominated by the unavoidable presence of the turbines. This would make these settlements less satisfactory places in which to live. Overall. however, it is those properties at Dorrington Lane, Dorrington Hall, Dorrington Hall Farm and The
    Grove where the full height and maximum spread of the turbines would be seen at their greatest and most proximate effect.

    84. Objections from interested persons are concentrated essentially on the disruption to their lives and businesses when the road is closed temporarily for the passage of large vehicles carrying abnormal loads. The Bearstone Stud, for example, is concerned that the veterinary surgeon might have difficulty reaching the stud in cases of emergency during foaling.

    I thank you again for your contribution to the debate which has given us the opportunity to respond and hope our comments have been constructive

    19 July, 2009 at 2:00 pm

  18. Rita Sinclair

    The wind industry continues to make wild, fantasy projections which the government insists we must not question or challenge, the green movement remains wilfully blind to the inability of the wind industry to ever meet those projections; the EU imposes hopelessly unachievable targets and the UK government, unwilling to apply rational and independent thought, caves in to the pressure from all of them. A government which insisted the economy was “sound”, that it had “put an end to boom and bust”, that Iraq had to be invaded because it had “‘weapons of mass destruction that could be launched within 45 minutes” is clearly incapable of making accurate assessments and judgements on any aspect of our lives. Mr Miliband has made it clear he will remove our democratic right to object, he tells us he will change the law YET AGAIN to erode those rights and suppress opposition. He joins a long line of oppressors who can only achieve their aims through intimidation and force. Where is Caroline Lucas ‘genuine engagement’ in that?

    This government’s heavy reliance on wind will not provide security of electricity supply and will have very little effect on CO2 emissions. This year, Mr Miliband tells us that a further 7,000 wind turbines must be erected on-shore. Last year it was 4,000 – next year 10,000? But vast increases in the number of wind turbines does not mean a proportionate increase in electricity supplied, and it is quite obvious why. The intermittency of wind means the output will never be reliable enough or sufficient enough for our needs, and the majority of the planned 7,000 wind turbines will be built in low wind speed areas practically on top of nearby communities. As RO subsidies to wind developers rise ever higher, wind speed matters less and less: developers’ electricity revenue shortfall is more than made up for by the subsidy. Why else are low wind speed areas throughout the UK under siege from so many wind developers?

    This industry, financed at staggering cost taken directly from our electricity bills, will push an extra 1.7 million people into fuel poverty (govt. report this week), bringing the total to 5 million. In addition to all the other costs of wind, we will have to fund welfare payments to ease the burden on the most vulnerable. Well, thanks to the inadequacies of this government and the pipe-dreams of the green party, we are ALL vulnerable now, and about to pay a very heavy price.

    The Danish experience shows us what the future holds. Denmark, with a similar wind resource to the UK, has more than 6,000 wind turbines Yet Danish Energy Authority statistics show that in 2008 wind-produced electricity dropped to 16.3% because of “poorer wind conditions”. 2006 was another “poor wind year”, when use of coal increased by 50% and CO2 emissions rose by 6.1%. In 2007, CO2 emissions rose by 0.7%. And exactly how many coal and gas fired power stations have been shut down as a result of erecting those 6,000 + wind turbines? Exactly none.

    Caroline Lucas said decisions should be ‘informed by the best available scientific evidence’. Unfortunately, when given the evidence, it is brushed aside as an inconvenient truth.

    19 July, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    • Dr Phillip Bratby


      Congratulations on a succint response. You have laid out the facts beautifully.

      On your last paragraph, please note that I spent days (as an expert on the energy industry) compiling a detailed response to the government’s draft Renewable Energy Strategy. I note in “The UK Renewable Energy Strategy” published this week, that 3 out of 236 pages discuss the results of the consultation exercise and any disagreements with the strategy are dismissed out of hand. So I have to agree with you 100%. Why does the government disregard scientific and engineering evidence? Why does the government ignore the experience from other countries? It is truly amazing, and if it wasn’t dangerous to ignore the facts, it would be laughable. Our future doesn’t look bright (no pun intended) unless we have a complete change of policy.

      19 July, 2009 at 4:05 pm

  19. Brian Gallagher

    Dear Caroline Lucas,

    You perfectly express imperatives relating to the democratic process in respect of energy and the environment … and then spoils it all by supporting wind turbines which are an affront to logic and much else.

    The subsidised destruction of our precious countryside for something which manifestly does not work is unforgivable vandalism. Ask Professor Ian Fells, or Professor Dieter Helm, or Professor James Lovelock, or Professor David King to explain why what currently passes for an energy policy doesn’t add up – and why wind is a dead end. If the people giving you your information are at odds with these experts … get rid of them.

    Is there such a thing as Anthropogenic Global Warming? Honest answer: I don’t know – and neither does anyone else for sure. Is Climate Change a vehicle for making a lot of money? You bet. Is the term ‘Wind Scam’ fair? Definitely. Is there a conflict of interest whenever the BWEA denounces NIMBYs and falsifies the number of houses a given wind factory can feed with electricity? Absolutely. I am not making light of this, it’s just obvious when you think about it.

    This was written about the banking crisis in a Sunday Times article and applies equally to the looming energy black hole.
    “For the world to go truly insane, leading to what the Bank of England has called “possibly the largest crisis of its kind in human history”, two things are needed. The first is the intellectual capture of the Establishment, so that everyone — politicians such as Gordon Brown, regulators such as the SEC and the FSA, and academic and media commentators — is persuaded that a new way of thinking is in the public interest. The second step is when vested interests exploit the intellectual capture and take it to extremes.”

    Germany has about 20,000 turbines so it is obviously reducing CO2 emmissions – right? WRONG. Denmark has the longest wind technology experience of any nation, and must be producing lower CO2 output – right? WRONG. So what is the point of this ruinously expensive exercise in intermittency? Please think carefully before answering.

    An honest audit is necessary for importing/transporting wind turbines and associated technology; the true cost of essential proper power station backup (because turbines operate ‘usefully’ for a maximum of about 100 days each year … and we don’t want to hibernate for the rest of the time); extending the grid to reach remote wind installations; control gear to attempt the difficult task of feeding fluctuating wind energy into the grid which was designed for predictable baseload input; massive concrete foundations and steel work; overcoming Titanic obstacles to offshore construction; any number of unforeseen problems.

    When that has been done, you will find that Ed Milliband’s Alice in Spinland achievement is to increase CO2. But it won’t matter. China and India’s huge dirty coal-fired power station programme will hide any embarrassment. People will be a bit cross when they see their bills skyrocket and they fall into fuel poverty. But when they are threatened with an ASBO for saying turbines are rubbish … that will put them in their place.

    It’s a funny old world.

    19 July, 2009 at 11:45 pm

  20. Caroline Lucas mentions the tension between on-shore wind farm developments and countryside preservation. Some of the ‘blogs’ explain why there is that tension, bias not balance has been the order of the day. Now although we have the facts they are still sadly being ignored.

    The idea in 1999 at the Wind energy and Planning seminar hosted by One North East, Government office for the North East and BWEA was to break into the manufacuring of wind turbines,create a profitable industry so upstaging Denmark and boosting our economy. A turbine manufacturing company would set up in the area if planning permission for a windfarm,then the largest in
    Europe,sited in an AONB was obtained! To steal the lead from Denmark it was said we needed places to erect the turbines(Fact not fiction,I was there)
    The Rewables Advisory Board was created,the ‘nimby’ was born and and the rest you all know as the global warming ‘chsos’ is being allowed to drive the issue.
    We must now work together before the lights do go out….

    Here are a few back up comments:

    Either side of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) debate

    ‘Al Gore‟s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’
    In this country there is a High Court* ruling that it must be presented with counterbalance in schools to prevent it being seen as political indoctrination and so contravening the education acts

    ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’
    This has been seriously criticised but not legally discredited

    ‘County Durham Climate Change Action Plan’
    This is based on evidence from the IPCC, Third Assessment that attributes most of the warming over the last 50 years to human activity The design and printing of the plan have had funding from NPower

    From The High Court Judgement* The snows of Kilimanjaro (Error14)“Mr Gore asserts in scene 7 that the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro is expressly attributable to global warming, a point that specifically impressed Mr(D)Miliband”

    CPRE View in 2008 Planning protection is paramount

    “Climate change is the overwhelming threat to the environment but it would be madness to desecrate the countryside, one of the nation’s most valued environmental assets, in tackling it.”
    Sunday Times July 200 8 Neil Sinden, policy director of CPRE

    CPRE is calling on the government to stop wind farm developers offering goodwill payments to host communities It has called for the removal of key Clause 151 in the Planning Bill, being debated in the House of Lords. This relates to the rights of residents to complain or seek compensation over noise, pollution or disruption caused by the operation of major infrastructure projects
    Planning 0ct 2008 Paul Miner, senior planning campaigner CPRE

    Even Marcus Trinick, who specialises in wind farms,is a board member of the British Wind Energy Association points out that projects do not bring jobs to an area so there is a need to contribute something to the host communities!
    Marcus was involved with officers of ETSU in providing the first draft of what is now PPG22: Renewable Energy. He also wrote the first draft of the Wind Energy Annex to PPG22

    Finally thank you to CPRE for allowing both sides of the argument to surface and for Caroline for her speech

    22 July, 2009 at 12:57 pm

  21. Fiona Ainslie

    Caroline Lucas’s arguments for wind turbines would hold a little more water if, as Elizabeth suggests, her party was seen to balance the potential benefits of wind against the potential disbenefits.

    Thanks to generous subsidies, developers are often proposing wind turbines for low wind sites. Evidence given at a Public Inquiry for a low wind site in Angus revealed that the proposed turbines would only achieve one third of the energy that would be produced by a more exposed site.

    One of the arguments for placing turbines in the UK is because we are deemed to have a first class wind regime. This may be so, but it is essential that low wind sites are avoided otherwise in order to meet whatever targets are set we will multiply the number of offending turbines by two or three times.

    Like many thousand others I believe that wind turbines are expensive, unreliable, inefficient follies, but in these cash strapped times we cannot afford to subsidize turbines in low wind areas.

    25 July, 2009 at 12:54 am

  22. I look foward to Caroline Lucas’ reply on how we may reconcile these competing environmetal objectives and also respect the right of people to the peaceful enjoyment of their own homes

    I do hope she finds all the comments constructive and thank her for her contribution, which has given people a rare opportunity to express their concerns

    25 July, 2009 at 8:47 pm

  23. Christine Drury

    I add my thanks to Caroline Lucas for a clear and courageous statement of the dilemmas, and to CPRE for encouraging and hosting this debate.

    As nonone has yet picked it up i would like to support Caroline’s suggestion that this debate could very usefully be widened to different views and “non-interneter’s” though a citizen jury. A lot of experience has been built up from the early days when they were used to address difficult planning issues, such as quarries. Citizen Juries have since been used to address technology debates such as GM foods and nano-technologies. Out of the debates have come enlightenment for proponents of a technology and ideas on how to take them forward without riding roughshod over opponents.

    It may have happened already ( in which case let’s find out the result) but if not, it should be high time all parties and their donors and sponsors pitched in for at least two citizen juries on the topic of windfarms, onshore or offshore.

    Christine Drury July 31st

    31 July, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    • The infuriating thing about the windfarm debate is that it isn’t even a debate. False claims and half truths are being fed to the public by the wind industry and the government, and the media (the BBC being the worst) are doing everything they can to suppress anyone who has the temerity to question the so-called concensus. If they do allow anyone to appear they deliberately select someone who comes across as an ill-informed NYMBY.

      Claims that 75% of the population support windpower are probably true, but I wonder what the figure would be if we were given to opportunity to present ALL the facts to them. Ironically I think it was Adolf Hitler who said “the bigger the lie, the greater the number of people who will believe it”. I say ‘ironically’ because we are certainly under a ‘jackboot’ dictatorship with the planning system being doctored to speed up this subsidised destruction of our heritage.

      Bob Graham

      3 August, 2009 at 1:32 pm

  24. In my opinion the ‘Green Party’ should be renamed the ‘Watermelon Party’, green on the outside but red on the inside.

    I cannot compete with the scientific excellence that underpins much of the comment on this blog, but my degree in cynicism plus 8 years in windfarm research leaves me in no doubt that the wind industry is evil. The BWEA threat to mostly old age pensioners was only removed from their website a few years ago following police intervention. They are even preying on our children using fear and intimidation to get them on board. My experience leaves me in no doubt that the only people that support windfarms are those with a vested interest ( political or financial) and those who know nothing about them (a category into which most members of the public fall into). A book soon to be released, written by Dr John Etherington, ‘The Windfarm Scam’ sums it all up.

    There are 3 main issues

    1) Climate Change
    2) Electricity generation
    3) Cost

    Wind power fails in all 3 cases

    Climate Change

    What caused it to change before we began burning fossil fuels? Even if our emissions are causing it to change consider these simple numbers.

    The UK is contributing 2% of global co2 emissions and electricity generation accounts for 28% of this, which in turn tranlates into 0.56% of global emissions. Latest figures show that global emissions are rising by 3% per annum – need I say anymore? The ‘Watermelon Party’ will, of course, claim that “it is better than doing nothing”.

    Electricity Generation

    As we all know the National Grid operates with ‘dispatchable’ electricity which immediately relegates windpower surplus to requirement. There are approximately 2500 turbines in the UK the average output of which is equivalent to half that from a single conventional power station. To put this windfarm output into context, 5 times more electricity is lost in the transmission and distribution system in the UK. In addition, I’m sure that you all know that Germany, despite having approx 25000 turbines, is building 20+ new coal fired power stations.


    The ROC’s and Climate Change Levy Exemption are costing us almost £1 billion per annum. This is driving the poor and the elderly deeper into fuel poverty.

    I know I’m preaching to the converted but this is not about climate change or electricity generation it is quite simply political tinkering which is taking the public’s attention away from the real issue which is the looming energy crisis.

    There has to be an immediate moratorium on windfarm construction and a pulic inquiry into this wanton destruction of our heritage with these useless turbines.

    Bob Graham

    31 July, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    • Dr Phillip Bratby


      I agree with you 100%. As a scientist who has worked in the energy industry for over 30 years, I understand the dangerous route this government has gone down with regard to our future energy supply. To base the country’s electricity policy on the propaganda of non-experts with a vested interest in lying to the government and public (the BWEA, as you rightly state), egged on by so-called environmentalists (greens) who also do not understand energy and the media, such as the BBC, is pure folly (or there is a hidden agenda here). To disregard the warnings of the engineering profession and rely on green propaganda is dangerous madness. People’s lives and the future of our country are at stake here. Once the electricity supply starts to fail, because proper despatchable and baseload power stations have not been built, the country’s economy will start to collapse and – well it does not bear thinking about.

      In a few years time the whole scam of man-made global warming and all that it has led to will be fully revealed. Will the country then have the money to remove all the useless wind turbines from our countryside, or will they just be left to decay as a symbol of early 21st century stupidity?

      1 August, 2009 at 5:57 am

  25. I need to reply to your comment as it has brought back memories
    However I do this as an individual and not as a member of any of the organisations I joined in order to get a balanced view of the situation as it developed.

    You mention the website and the ‘we know where you live,you put your name on the letter’ episode There is also the CD which I still have. I had written letters only relating to Barningham High Moor Proposal in an effort to counteract misinformation on offical sites
    I therefore dealt with it in a way that seemed appropriate for me through a solcitor and then the Information Commissioner as the police were not sure how to deal with it.
    The Information Commissioner confirmed in March 2004that it was probably not compliant with principle 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998
    BWEA solicitors apologized on behalf of A…..
    In fairness I must record that. I also ensured I never mentioned it at RWEA meetings

    I restrict my reply to the comment made by Bob regarding the website saga.

    Posted as a community member

    1 August, 2009 at 2:34 pm

  26. Brian Gallagher

    I join Phillip Bratby in siding with Bob Graham’s common sense approach to what Dr John Etherington and Christopher Booker term “The Wind Farm Scam”.

    The claimed 75% public support for wind energy is BWEA disinformation based on a false syllogism. It runs like this: Almost everyone supports clean, green renewable energy. Wind is a renewable energy source. Therefore, almost everyone supports wind turbines.

    If this were true, postings on a forum such as this would be overwhelmingly in favour of wind factory turbinisation. The opposite is true.

    Country Guardian has in excess of 200 registered groups fighting turbines throughout Britain. Typically, developers speculatively apply for permission to erect turbines wherever they can, irrespective of the site’s wind profile. Locals scratch below the veneer of green spin and soon discover a very dark side to wind propaganda. An action group is set up, and there is almost unanimous fierce opposition to the development for the reasons given on these message boards. Wind isn’t working.

    Bob mentions the German experience (the country has more turbines than any other) and I would add that Der Spiegel revealed German CO2 levels are rising not falling. These are extracts from the article – it’s worth reading it all. ___________________________________________________________,1518,606763,00.html

    Wind Turbines in Europe Do Nothing for Emissions-Reduction Goals

    By Anselm Waldermann

    Despite Europe’s boom in solar and wind energy, CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram. Now, even the Green Party is taking a new look at the issue — as shown in e-mails obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE.

    Experts have known about this situation for some time, but it still isn’t widely known to the public. Even Germany’s government officials mention it only under their breath. No one wants to discuss the political ramifications.

    Building Renovations Are Better than Windmills

    Experts from the Green Party are taking the problem very seriously: “We are in a veritable crisis situation, and that means we must reconsider and alter things we once took for granted,” writes one contributor, adding that it’s important to re-examine “whether we have set the right priorities.”

    I fear that the costs are significantly greater than even the figure Bob mentioned. I understand it has already reached an annualised rate of £1.4 billion.

    5 August, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  27. Linda Woodham

    As someone who is concerned about climate change and the protection of the rural environment, its an uncomfortable position to oppose wind farms. One issue I have not seen addressed is the scale of some of these proposals and the size of the turbines. Large numbers of massive turbines are out of scale with the British landscape, which is mostly managed,small-scale and relatively densely populated. Many objections to these, including mine, are aesthetic. Might not more small- scale turbines (say not much larger than a traditional windmill) be less likely impact the rural landscape and communities? Why not leave the huge installations for places whre there is a huge space – eg the sea? Also I think that many people object to the ruin of views/ wildlife/noise when at the same time they see the massive amounts of waste of power & resources which is not being addressed. It seems to me that massive windfarms are just another quick fix.

    5 August, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    • Brian Skittrall

      The monster turbines have their rotors higher above ground and so they suffer less turbulence and benefit from higher wind speeds. In many (particularly inland) locations even the monster turbines are marginal, smaller ones would be a complete waste of time.

      However, I think that you are entirely right when you think that windfarms are just a politically expedient quick fix. They generate impressive (if massively spun) statistics, require no effort or direct expense from the Government and are only unpopular with rural voters who usually vote Conservative anyway.

      If there was any real concern about the environment, then the Government would listen to the scientists and engineers who say that the current Government policies are unachievable and will not deliver genuine carbon savings.

      5 August, 2009 at 10:54 pm

      • Carole Walker

        I presume wind farms would contribute just a part of the energy needed,with atomic power being regarded the most energy providing solution.

        Are the scientists just talking about government policies on wind farms being unachievable here, or its overall policity on carbon saving per se?

        If the large wind turbines do make a realistic contribution to the problem, sticking them off shore would seem to be a vaiable way forward. I dont know what kind of hazard they would generate off shore whilst generating!

        6 August, 2009 at 8:22 am

  28. Brian Gallagher

    I’m sure Linda Woodham’s proper concerns for the rural environment are shared by all of us on this forum.

    Professor James Lovelock, whose environmental credentials aren’t in doubt, sums it up “If wind energy were the one practical and affordable answer to global heating then I would grit my teeth at the loss of the countryside and accept it.”

    In the same artticle: “Lovelock sees nuclear power as a solution to reducing carbon emissions criticises the whole concept of renewable power. “There is no such thing as renewable energy; it belongs as an idea with perpetual motion and other delusions but politicians and ideologues have become skilled at using enticing words to cover essentially rotten ideas”.”

    Unfortunately, the misconceptions about nuclear waste are based on old technology – not modern reactors. Lovelock explains in an article “Nuclear lies are keeping you afraid”

    And this was written about the Father of Gaia – “As far as the radioactive legacy is concerned, he remains curiously unmoved, arguing that the waste produced by fossil-fuel energy has proven far more dangerous and difficult to dispose of than anything produced by a reactor. He even offers to take delivery of a year’s worth of nuclear waste for burial in his own back garden, using the heat from its decaying radioactive elements to warm his home for free. As he points out, “it would be a waste not to use it”.”

    As for windmill scale turbines, unfortunately this would result in blanketing considerably more of the countryside than for the giants. The latter would require a land area the size of Wales to meet current targets. That is a measure of the scale of this stupidity.

    6 August, 2009 at 9:36 am

  29. Pam Manger

    Is it surprising that members of the public are “sitting on their hands” when no one, scientific experts included, can come up with any definitive advice. A lot of the advice that has been given has now been cotradicted. When we see all our towns and cities lit up like fairgrounds all night, every night, what incentive is there for us to change lightbulbs, get better loft insulation or install solar panels at our own cost when we are surrounded by huge amounts of waste! A simple campaign by CPRE to industry and businesses to turn off lights and equipment when not neede, will do a lot more good that joe public not leaving his television on standby – unless someone can prove me wrong!

    6 August, 2009 at 1:07 pm

  30. Brian Skittrall

    Sadly, the Government’s policies are unachievable in practical terms and based on unsound science. I suspect that their real policy is to look green enough to get re-elected. As Jonathan Porritt said recently “Mr Brown does not ‘get’ climate change” and thinks that it is a middle class issue.

    6 August, 2009 at 1:07 pm

  31. Paul Kemp

    It always depresses me that no-one seriously considers the radical reduction of energy demand as one of the key elements in tackling climate change. All the debates re-visited here focus on how we can raise energy production to meet raised demand.
    But what about reducing demand in order that we can reduce production?
    We can reduce demand by re-structuring our economies and our habits of consumption and, and here’s the rub, by decisively reversing global population trends.
    Green arguments based on the necessary supremacy of Human interests are barely green at all. What about the interests of the rest of the biosphere? What about wilderness?
    But let’s focus on landscape preservation alone, and take an overtly anthropocentric position. The vast majority of our landscapes are the result of millennia of human intervention. They are not wilderness, they are not natural. So the argument follows that wind farms are just another human modification, consistent with the age-old pattern of human intervention that has created the landscapes we love.
    But this is missing a crucial point. For most of human history our interventions have been in form not substance: they have consisted of a re-ordering of the organic components of the landscape; replacing an expanse of woodland with one of crop-land, organising shrubs into hedges to divide open land or removing them to re-create open land, draining marshland to create cropland etc etc. While no one would be as dishonest as to suggest that these changes didn’t have enormous consequences for habit and bio-diversity, we should be careful to distinguish between these and the concept of ‘landscape’ which is as much abstract, spiritual and aesthetic as it is material.
    I know that my previous statement will provide plenty of ammunition for my detractors but it remains a fact that a huge number of people value landscape entirely or partially for such abstract reasons. In a crowded urban and industrialized world it is a visible and accessible proof of ‘otherness’, a contrast, a respite, an escape And the landscape, however much the product of human intervention, has until very recently been essentially and literally ‘green’. Wind farms are particularly controversial because they are aggressive statements of an urban industrial society. They emphatically progress the urbanisation of the countryside that was begun during the Industrial Revolution with smoke stacks, and hugely accelerated by the appearance and proliferation of electricity pylons, cooling towers, telecommunication masts, multi-lane highways and their attend clutter of lampposts, gantries, engineering works and signage. And they do so over vast swathes of land. Each turbine requires its own access track, each wind farm its power relay infrastructure. The random rhythms and movements of growing organisms, the rhythms and movements of the landscapes we cherish, are disturbed by the mechanical, regular rhythms of industry.

    6 August, 2009 at 1:19 pm

  32. Brian Gallagher

    I’m sure Linda Woodham’s proper concerns for the rural environment are shared by all of us on this forum.

    Professor James Lovelock, whose environmental credentials are difficult to challenge, sums it up “If wind energy were the one practical and affordable answer to global heating then I would grit my teeth at the loss of the countryside and accept it.”

    In the same article: “Lovelock sees nuclear power as a solution to reducing carbon emissions criticizes the whole concept of renewable power. “There is no such thing as renewable energy; it belongs as an idea with perpetual motion and other delusions but politicians and ideologues have become skilled at using enticing words to cover essentially rotten ideas”.”

    Unfortunately, the misconceptions about nuclear waste are based on old technology – not modern reactors. Lovelock explains in an article “Nuclear lies are keeping you afraid”

    And this was written about the Father of Gaia – “As far as the radioactive legacy is concerned, he remains curiously unmoved, arguing that the waste produced by fossil-fuel energy has proven far more dangerous and difficult to dispose of than anything produced by a reactor. He even offers to take delivery of a year’s worth of nuclear waste for burial in his own back garden, using the heat from its decaying radioactive elements to warm his home for free. As he points out, “it would be a waste not to use it”.”

    Fission delivers essential, reliable baseload energy – wind cannot.

    As for windmill scale turbines, unfortunately this would result in blanketing considerably more of the countryside than for the giants. The latter would require a land area the size of Wales to meet current targets. That is a measure of the scale of this stupidity.

    7 August, 2009 at 9:40 pm

  33. Alice Ross

    I am sure the meteorologists knoew exacty where in the British isles the wind is constant, reliable and perfect for wind generation. Within these areas it would surely be feasible to identify landscapes to be saved at all costs and those where turbines would not cause such visual harm. Instead of allowing penny number individual dottings about of entrepreneurial wind farms we should resolve that they should only be sited in the areas established above.
    But surely wave and particularly tide power are overwhelmingly the most reliable of all the green forms of energy – Canute couldn’t stop them nor can we. This is where the research and dvelopment should be concentrated – we shouldn’t be saying outright no to the Severn Barrage but should be saying good idea but we need to find a design which will produce power but not compromise wildlife – for instance, use ingoing and outflowing tide power without ponding back the outgoing tide by a dam.

    10 August, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    • Dr Phillip Bratby

      The place in the British Isles where “the wind is constant, reliable and perfect for wind generation” is nowhere – such a place doesn’t exist. That is the trouble with trying to get energy from wind. There is nowhere that is ideal; so wind energy is intermittent, unreliable, damaging to the countryside and wildlife and very expensive.

      It’s no use saying “But surely wave and particularly tide power are overwhelmingly the most reliable of all the green forms of energy”. If you don’t know that wave and tidal power are the most reliable forms of green energy, why not go and find out instead of speculating? You may find that heat pumps are are far more reliable.

      I suggest you go away and read ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’ by Prof David MacKay. You can download it for free at . When you have read it you will have some idea of what forms of energy are available and what the engineering and other problems are. Beyond that you will need to discuss your ideas with power engineers – the people who have to make these ideas into something we can all rely on at a cost we can afford. The people who have to “find a design” as you call it.

      10 August, 2009 at 7:01 pm

      • Kate Skelton

        It is worth noting that most of David MacKay’s scenarios for future energy provision anticipate a big growth in wind energy, which he regards as ‘the renewable with the biggest potential’.

        11 August, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  34. Dr Phillip Bratby

    Kate Skelton:

    I have read David MacKay’s book from cover to cover and I have it open in front of me. I have been unable to find the quote you gave. I have even searched the pdf of the book, but still no luck. Please tell me where the qote occurs.

    I would be surprised if the quote were true because the renewable energy source of greatest potential has to be solar, the ultimate source of all renewable energy (with the exception of geothermal).

    David MacKay presents five possible energy plans that he believes to be “technically feasible” (but not necessarily politically or financially feasible). The only one that has a large wind contribution (plan G), has a 120-fold increase in wind power (equivalent to more than 4 times the current wind power in the world). To overcome the intermittency problem of this much wind power would need, amongst other changes, more than 100 of Britain’s major lakes being used for pumped storage (to produce elactricity for the prolonged periods when the wind doesn’t blow). So technically the plan is feasible, but could we afford the £trillions, covering the sea and land with giant windmills, using all our major lakes for pumped storage and a huge new network of grid connections? Would this be accepted by the voters?

    It all points to the complete fallacy and utter waste of money that occurs when trying to get electricity from, in physical terms, the lowest grade source of energy, namely moving air.

    12 August, 2009 at 7:55 am

    • Kate Skelton

      The quotation comes from a Mail on Sunday article by David MacKay. There is a link from his website – I haven’t read MacKay’s book but I did hear a talk he gave on his conclusions. As far as I recall he gave various scenarios for how the UK might increase its supply of renewable energy, most of which envisaged a significant increase in onshore wind. When pressed he said that he favoured a plan that would see significant clusters of wind farms in the South West and Northumberland (he wanted to keep them out of the Lake District) as well as Scotland and Wales. But he stressed that it is up to society to determine what mix of energy it wants – he just wants people to be clear on the facts regarding what energy they provide and how much land they use.

      12 August, 2009 at 9:07 am

  35. Caroline points out that scientific evidence informs the decision-making and gives Romney Marsh wind farm in Kent as a good example–

    Yet we cannot ignore the reality when Only 19 of the 26 wind turbines on Romney Marsh are currently turning.

    “A power fault has rendered seven of the gigantic blades immobile at the Little Cheyne Court wind
    farm – a month after it was opened amid much fanfare by energy secretary Ed Milliband.”
    The above abstract is from Kent on line 14th August

    17 August, 2009 at 9:57 pm

  36. Brian Gallagher

    Caroline Lucas, and others of a ‘green’ persuasion, who who have been taken in by profit-driven wind propaganda, should view the BBC HARDtalk interview with Professor James Lovelock at

    Prof Lovelock is the genuine article when it comes to being in true harmony with our planet. Politicians should act on what he and like-minded scientists are saying.

    21 August, 2009 at 6:27 pm

  37. Brian
    Please will you do a very brief synopsis of the lovelock video for those who live in areas that do not have broadband or only limited access

    22 August, 2009 at 6:01 pm

  38. Caroline
    A final comment posted not as CPRE but as a community member and on behalf of those whose quality of life is currently at risk

    Thankyou for your comments but we feel there is a huge gap betweenthe technology and methodology

    27 August, 2009 at 8:10 am

  39. Apologies as I have sent my commment before I finished it!
    I need simply to list some of the ‘issues /contacts’ which will fill the gap

    CSE Centre for Sustainable Energy
    RAB Renewables Advisory Board
    TNEI The Northern Energy Initiative
    TRECT Teesdale Renewable Energy Challenge
    ERDF European Regional Development Fund
    Sustaine North east ‘arm’ of the Sustainable
    Development Commission SDC
    Hansard debates from HOC and HOL
    ROC Explanation to the consumers
    The Environment Council

    Thank you

    27 August, 2009 at 8:32 am

  40. Carol Oliver

    Okay, so you’re all anti-windfarm and pro-solar or nuclear. However, while most of you probably live down South where it may be sunny some of the year, here in Yorkshire it is not! We haven’t seen the sun for more than maybe an hour on some days (and most days we don’t see it at all) since the end of June and summer has now finished. Quite what sticking solar panels all over our houses will do here, I’m not sure, but it won’t generate enough electricity to keep any of our houses fed, certainly not in the cold climate we live in and with the high-energy demand our badly built houses demand!

    As for hydro, I’d love to see more of it but most areas of Britain outside of the mountainous bits of Wales, the Lakes and Scotland just don’t have the required downfall of water required. It could work if we used turbines which utilise the slow but massive amount of waterflow in the major rivers, but we don’t yet use that technology here.

    As for nuclear – well okay – go for it. I have neither children nor grandchildren so officially I don’t care. However, those of you who have and are leaving them the legacy of never-decaying pollution from nuclear plants, maybe should think again – for their sake!

    I can’t see how anyone is pro-coal/gas fired power stations nowadays apart from the obvious fact that they don’t live in the areas where such power stations are situated – a case of gross Nimbyism in my book!

    Yes, I’d like to keep the countryside kept beautiful but think that climate change is set to wreak (or is now wreaking) far more damage to our precious landscapes than wind turbines, the unattractiveness of which is only a matter of opinion and fashion anyway!

    29 August, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    • Dr Phillip Bratby


      You cannot simply categorise people as “anti-windfarm and pro-solar or nuclear”. Our energy future is not that simple. I do live down south (in Devon) and can state that our summer has been like yours – very little sun, but lots of cloud and rain). And just as we cannot rely on solar because it only provides useful energy occasionally, so too we cannot rely on wind, because that only blows at useful speeds occasionally. Looking back at my weather records for early January this year, I see we had over a week when the wind did not blow at all and it was so cold that the river by my house froze over. So if we cannot rely on solar and wind, and as you say, we don’t have the big rivers to make useable amounts of hydro-electric power, what can we use?

      I have commented above, that it would be useful if everybody read ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’ by Prof David MacKay. You can download it for free at . When you have read it you will have some idea of what forms of energy are available and what the engineering and other problems are.

      You are mistaken in your statement about “never-decaying pollution from nuclear plants”. The nuclear waste from nuclear power plants does decay. That is the whole point about nuclear waste – it decays, so that after a period of time it is less radioactive than the uranium that was mined from the ground in the first place. This radioactive decay is in stark contrast to lots of other waste that has been and still is being produced by other industries and ourselves and which is completely stable and therefore never decays – think heavy metals. This stable waste will be there forever.

      If you have a good solution or solutions to our future energy needs, I would be pleased to hear about them, so please let us know – but before you do, I suggest that you have a look at David MacKay’s book.

      Please also tell us about this damage that climate change is wreaking today and how it differs from the damage that climate change wrought in those periods in the past when it was much warmer than today and also in those periods when it was much colder than today.

      30 August, 2009 at 7:19 am

  41. Carol
    I have never been anti wind-farm just skeptic, practical and concerned abut people’s quality of life

    1 September, 2009 at 8:23 am

  42. Dr. Tony Parker

    The Wind Farm Scam by Dr. John Etherington

    Communities and Politicians Should Welcome This Contribution

    Thank goodness for this timely contribution. As a professional engineer and academic I was recently faced with the task of educating myself and fellow villagers on the numerous issues surrounding industrial wind turbines. We needed to rapidly acquire and assimilate the information on turbine capital costs, electrical output, revenue streams, subsidies (including the Alice-in-Wonderland ‘renewables obligation certificates’), health issues (particularly noise) and claimed contributions to carbon-reduction.

    All this was required to counter the ‘steamroller’ tactics of developer and lobby groups, both apparently determined to despoil the new South Downs National Park landscape and (as it transpired) to charge us for the privilege! We spent many weeks collating information, then promulgating to residents and planning authorities and at public inquiry. Dr. Etherington’s monograph would have dramatically eased and speeded our learning experience.

    Etherington’s book will surely come to be recognised as the immediate source of reference for communities such as ours when faced with proposals for industrial wind turbine farms. From painful experience our community now knows that they are indeed a ‘scam’.

    Hopefully ‘The Wind Farm Scam’ will also be required reading for all MPs in the 2010 intake; particularly so for ministers who thus far have failed spectacularly to grasp the scientific and environmental issues which John Etherington so adeptly assembles and analyses.

    It is no exaggeration to say that none of our legislators (with the honourable exception of Lord Lawson) has thus far grasped the futility of wind turbine economics. If appropriate early action is taken to modify current policies it would save our nation tens of billions of pounds that we can ill afford – and all this with no harm to the environment!

    We all owe Dr. Etherington a debt of gratitude for his timely publication – let us not waste the opportunity to revise our strategy.

    Dr. Tony Parker
    East Sussex, UK

    14 October, 2009 at 3:41 pm

  43. Dr Phillip Bratby

    Dr Tony Parker,

    I agree entirely. Many of us have gone through the same learning process.

    Dr Phillip Bratby
    (a retired scientist and energy consultant)

    14 October, 2009 at 6:18 pm

  44. Pingback: Road to 2015: Time to hear from UKIP | CPRE viewpoint

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