Since I've been writing about the wind farm fiasco, it's inevitable that I've come across other forms of industrial development in our precious countryside and the battles being fought around the world by those individuals and communities who feel bulldozed (quite literally) by big businesses masquerading as ethical companies when in fact they leave in their wake catastrophic environmental destruction and broken communities.
From the high speed HS2 rail project in the UK (which is causing a huge impact on both local communities and the countryside) through to the proliferation of vast offshore wind farms around the British coast and intrusive onshore wind developments particularly across the Scottish landscape and especially on Shetland where locals are desperately fighting to save their wonderful open spaces from the onslaught of monster turbines. And all in the name of 'green' energy.
However, it seems that wind farms are not alone in causing direct harm to the natural environment under a phony green umbrella.
Massive solar power 'parks', also being marketed as 'farms', are planned in many countries including the UK and the USA. In the Mojave Desert in the South Western USA, ancient Joshua trees, some centuries old, are under threat as a developer pushes ahead with a huge solar energy park. The Joshua trees are protected by US government law but it looks ever more likely that they will be felled in the name of 'green' energy.
Here in the UK, another expansive solar energy 'farm' comprising no less than 200,000 solar panels is to be built on 220 acres of agricultural land on the isle of Anglesey and is just one of many that are likely to be covering the fast disappearing British countryside in the coming years. This will result in the loss of both precious wildlife habitat and agricultural land to be replaced by large ugly fields of glass panels which will bring profits for renewable energy companies and a limited amount of intermittent power production at the expense of countryside and wildlife.
But there are even bigger plans afoot... in Kent a proposal for a whopping 890 acre solar 'farm' is being put forward. The name Cleve Hill Solar Park Farm interestingly makes use of both the terms 'park' and 'farm' which might give it the impression of being something rather pleasant but conservation organisations are extremely worried, pointing out that the land mooted for this development is home to many rare species including Skylarks and the elusive Water Vole.
As with wind farms, these fields of panels are being marketed as green when in fact the opposite might be true. This is, after all, nothing less than industrial development in the countryside and the companies behind the schemes should be honest about that.
Solar farms in desert areas of the world have been known to literally fry birds flying overhead as the solar mirrors reflect superheated radiation which can kill them instantly as they pass over the fields of panels. Granted, this is unlikely to happen in the UK given our sunshine record but this supposedly 'green' technology does appear to cause potentially more harm to wildlife and the environment than many other forms of energy production apart from wind farms of course which are well known themselves as 'bird blenders'.
We all acknowledge that there is a need to find new and renewable forms of energy but if this happens at the expense of our natural environment and wildlife then we need to think again – and urgently – before we lose it all.
If the cost of 'green' energy is cutting down ancient trees and smothering countryside and wildlife habitats with glass panels then I feel it is too high a price to pay.
Placing such technology in urban areas would of course be a partial solution, there is enough roof space in towns and cities to cover with solar panels before we allow them to overwhelm our countryside.
'Green' energy does not fit with environmental conservation and it is high time the energy companies stopped pretending that wind farms and solar parks can sit comfortably in the midst of our open countryside. They can't - and we shouldn't entertain any attempts to take our open spaces away from us in this way. If we don't oppose these projects when they threaten our countryside then we will have to explain to future generations how we sold off their rural inheritance to industrial development disguised as a 'green' and 'ethical' fantasy.
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