Friday, 5 January 2007

Wind farms

Polly Toynbee's article in today's Guardian about wind farms makes interesting reading. NIMBYs are usually more of a bother than a benefit, since bad things (out of town supermarkets, nuclear power stations, airport expansions, etc) get pushed through anyway while good things get blocked. Wind farms are a case in point.

Being anti-wind farm is the default Tory position, whatever David Cameron may say. I've seen this effect myself with my parents. While naturally quite green, being paid-up Conservative members and reading the Telegraph and Spectator have taken their toll. They now have the strange flat-Earth style faith in bad science that Polly describes in the article. I guess it's inevitable if you just believe the right-wing press, but it bothers me that the Conservatives pretty much brainwash their members. 'Group think' and all that. Of course, the power of the right does come from ignorance and fear, but allowing this to help destroy the planet is going too far.

So, what are we to do? As the article says, a firm hand from Westminster is a good idea. It saddens me to see that some LibDem councils are just as bad and block wind farms too - they should be slapped-down for it. However, discipline from parties themselves doesn't go far enough. I think that wind farms and green energy in general should be made almost impossible for local councils to block. This sounds quite draconian, but let's face it, most people won't want one on their doorstep. It doesn't matter that they wouldn't want a nuclear power station either - those are so universally unpopular that they get forced through anyway. No, I'm afraid to say that where politicians depend on rural votes then there is a risk that they will block wind farms whatever they think of the environmental benefits. If they are forced through by the government then the council won't lose votes since they can't block them anyway. Problem solved.

While people are dithering about with tiny numbers of wind farms we're still killing the planet. It's time to get serious about building them on a massive scale. In the end, who cares what they look like if it means we are getting clean energy? Better that than global warming or a legacy of nuclear waste left for the next thousand generations.


Paul Griffiths said...

"...but let's face it, most people won't want one on their doorstep."

Interestingly, a survey for the Scottish Executive in 2003 produced this remarkable finding:

"People living closest to the windfarms tend to be most positive about them (44% of those living within 5km say the windfarm has had a positive impact, compared with 16% of those living 10-20km away). They are also most supportive of expansion of the sites (65% of those in the 5km zone support 50% expansion, compared with 53% of those in the 10-20km zone)."

Tristan said...

To concentrate on windfarms will do more damage than good.
They are not, in themselves, a solution.

As for bad science- most greens seem to be beloved of their own bad science :(

And 'good' and 'bad' are subjective. Out of town shopping centres are good for those who benefit from them, they're bad to those who are harmed by them, but that's the nature of things.

Nuclear power: Good in that it reduces carbon emissions, bad in that it produces radioactive waste and its expensive.

Polly also shows her authoritarian colours in that article. She knows best and that must be what happens.

Dominic said...

But who benefits from out of town shopping centres? The lazy? The motor and oil industries? I think that it's sometimes necessary to be 'authoritarian' since sadly most people are too selfish to do the right thing unless they save money by doing so.

Windfarms may not be a solution, but they are certainly a part of the solution. I can't see a single rational reason not to build as many as we can.