It was heartening to hear that people-power and common sense defeated a wind farm in Kirkby Moor, Cumbria this week, a welcome piece of good news that should offer encouragement to those communities around the UK and overseas who are fighting their own battles against wind farm development.
The tide of public opinion seems to be turning as people learn the truth about just how damaging the turbines are to the environment. When I mentioned the Cumbrian success on social media this week, the pro-wind lobbyists sprung into action and I received plenty of name calling and criticism of my views. But one becomes used to their attempts to belittle and denigrate while their pro-wind rhetoric contains nothing new and their arguments are weak and tired.
So public opposition to wind farms is definitely growing but there's much still to do.
I wrote earlier in the week about the struggle to preserve the countryside on Yell in Shetland and theirs is a battle which is being reflected across the UK and globally. It seems that wind companies are particularly adept at targeting pristine natural countryside. The determination and stamina of the people in south Cumbria proves that the battle can be won. There have been similar successes in other areas too - in Turkey and Ireland, for example, where turbine installations have been either prevented or removed through unwavering community action but the problem is huge - and the turbines are getting bigger.
Offshore wind farms are, in their own way, just as harmful as those on land. Some may be out of sight, many are a major blot on the seascape, but all are potentially lethal to wildlife. In addition to their very questionable efficiency, the vast banks of turbines are responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds, many of them endangered and protected species. There is some evidence to suggest that the recent increase in numbers of beached whales is due to the effects of low frequency vibrations caused by the turbines which interferes with the whales' sensitive sonar.
While there are such concerns over the threat to these protected species, is it not terribly irresponsible to plough on with plans to install more and more huge offshore wind farms? As I write, communities in Suffolk are fighting to protect their coast and countryside amid proposals for hundreds of new offshore turbines. According to the Suffolk Preservation Society, the huge turbines will be illuminated and could be as high as 300m with a rotor diameter of 250m. They point out that, aside from their visual impact on this heritage coastline, the proposal includes onshore development that will be required to service the offshore farm, including plans for an enormous substation. Locals have voiced their concerns about how the development will affect coastal wildlife which includes seals, sand martins and skylarks, together with many species of wild flowers.
Whatever one thinks about wind power (and readers know my views), one of the main objections continues to be the glib and convincing way in which these developments are marketed as 'green'. This, to my mind, is intended to mislead and deceive the general public into believing that, by supporting such projects, they are helping conserve the environment. This is clearly not the case. Wind farms harm the environment and wildlife and appear to be a money making venture for investors and big companies.
Publicity for wind energy should be presented honestly and factually – and should not try to mislead and confuse.
But of course then the general public wouldn't want it at all....