Monday, 28 February 2011


There are two ways of looking at the anti-wind nimbies, and in both cases one is advised to do so from a distance.

The first acknowledges that the short-term selfishness of anti-windfarm nimbies simply plays into the hands of those lobbyists for the nuclear and fossil fuel industries. Anti-windfarm groups really do lap up the misleading stories presented to the right-wing press by forces opposed to the development of clean energy. This results in a feedback mechanism. Lobbyists for nuclear power leak anti-windfarm myths, which are then enthusiastically spread about my anti-windfarm campaigners who would rather spout silly stories and blatant lies than do some proper research. The outcome is a populace which has some really very strange ideas about wind power and a handful of MPs who are eager to speak on the subject when they don't have a clue about it.

The alternative approach recognises that nimbyism is now the British Disease. And so David Cameron fulminates against the numerous protesters against the proposed High-Speed Rail Link between London and Birmingham. In so doing, Cameron emphasises the chaotic thinking at the heart of the coalition government. While Eric Pickles promises to put decision-making in the hands of tiny covens of local busybodies, the government is obliged for good economic reasons to put the country's interests ahead of those of a few diehard nimbies who don't want to see progress if there's a chance it might spoil their views.

We have argued before that there is little to differentiate the self-serving anti-wind nimbies from the equally head-in-the-sand anti-HS2 nimbies - or any other nimby, for that matter. Interestingly, all these groups insist that they're not nimbies. They all advance the same atrociously inaccurate and unsustainable arguments, they're all opposed to something Good on the grounds that they might have to look at it, but none of them admit to being nimbies. Each group believes that it has a God-given right to stand in the way of progress, guaranteed by the fact that they - uniquely - are not nimbies. Ha!!!

Listening to the facile nonsense of the anti-wind lobby, you could be forgiven for imagining that the UK is alone in the world, and that only in Britain is a conspiracy of government, multinational corporations and green activists determined to foist windfarms and other forms of renewable power on a land of tinpot nimbies. Not so. The rest of the world is charging ahead with renewables. Why? Because we have to. So while the nimby nutters try to foster yet another false impression (only in Britain is wind power being pursued so single-mindedly), the rest of the world forges ahead. Just as our European neighbours did with High-Speed Rail.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published figures which indicate that global investment in clean energy is set to reach $240 billion this year (up 20% on 2010). The main thrust behind this massive advance is coming from China, India and Brazil.

We already know that the US has been investing heavily in green energy (just don't mention climate change in Texas, where they see their windfarms as economically sensible, rather than ecologically vital). China, too, is getting into wind power in a big way. So does this mean that the world's emerging super economy is falling into the same traps as Britain by being hoodwinked by green business interests?

No. What it means is that the world has woken up to the need for renewables, and countries such as China, India and Brazil are responding to the challenge with admirable gusto.

Meanwhile, back in The Shire, the cretinous Daily Mail readers of Middle England are opposed to all this. Well, that is, they're opposed if it impinges to the slightest degree on their miserable existence. If they bought a house in the country - even just a second home - they refuse to allow an inspiring windfarm or an exciting high-speed train to go anywhere near it. They imagine that they bought the scenery when they built their detached eyesore. And so, just to shut them up, we have to play the game of pretending that they're not nimbies.

Britain needs to wake up, fast. The rest of the world is rapidly leaving us behind, as our more witless fellow countrymen do everything in their power to prevent Britain from realising its potential. Worse, they lie openly and brazenly in order to achieve their empty-headed aims, the myth-mongering nimbies of VVASP being a case in point.

It's embarrassing, really, isn't it? Emerging economies are massively increasing their investments in green technology and driving the development of a global green economy. But here in England, little, short-sighted, selfish England, all that has to stop.

Just to please a bunch of ignorant, greedy, dishonest and foolish nimbies.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


A while back we reported on the film The Age of Stupid, starring the excellent and much-lamented Pete Postlethwaite.

The film is a genuine wake-up call. Set in 2050 or thereabouts, it wonders why, when we knew all about the dangers of man-made climate change, we did so little to ameliorate matters.

(Part of the reason, of course, is that short-term economic interests and political ideologues did everything in their power to stop us doing anything to prepare for a sustainable future - hence the prevalence of fanatical nimby groups, the lobbyists who posed as members of the public to rant on green websites and genuinely useless MPs who actually preferred nimby lies to scientific fact. Heigh-ho.)

We pointed out that the deluded nimbies opposing a windfarm development in Bedfordshire, as featured in the film, looked and talked rather like our own lunatic nimbies in Worcestershire. Having lied to themselves, each other and everyone else, over and over again, these nasty nimbies succeeded in stopping the proposed Airfield Windfarm. Then one of them - a woman whose grasp of reality matched that of certain people in our immediate area - insisted that they were all doing everything they could to support renewables.

Yes, just like VVASP. All in favour of renewables. But NOT HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That simpering airhead became one of the unlikely stars of The Age of Stupid. Indeed, if YouTube were a dictionary, there would probably be a clip of her demonstrating what 'Stupid' is. She epitomised the calculating dishonesty and absolute absence of logic which pervades the anti-windfarm movement.

Well, here's the good news. Piers, the windfarm developer who had struggled against the Bedforshire nimby nitwits, who had received threatening phonecalls from supposedly decent people, who had been trounced by a bunch of liars, may yet have his day.

At the request of the Secretary of State, the High Court has quashed the planning inspector's decision to refuse permission for the Airfield Windfarm. The Secretary of State pointed out that the planning inspector had failed to take into account the fact that the five residents who would have been closest to the windfarm were all in favour of the development.

Looking back, then, a rent-a-mob of nimby fools and fanatics held up a valuable, vital development, partly by swapping the usual idiot stories about windfarms with each other, and their leader then issued the usual PR crap about being all in favour of renewables while celebrating the defeat of the Airfield Windfarm application ... but the windfarm may yet go ahead because the adverse decision was patently the wrong one!

Let's hope that, having seen themselves as they really are (in The Age of Stupid), those nasty nimbies will want to keep their heads down from now on. If only Team Stupid had filmed some of our nasty Lenchwick nimbies frothing at the mouth, lying their heads off and bullying anyone with a conscience - then they too might have been revealed as the public enemies they so patently are.

Fingers crossed, then, that the Airfield Windfarm will finally get the go-ahead, having been thwarted by nimby nutters for far too long.

And fingers crossed, too, for another project being developed by the same wind energy company (Nuon Renewables). This is the majestic Pen y Cymoedd windfarm, an amazing 250-megawatt project which will be the largest windfarm in England and Wales, injecting £1 billion into the local economy, with an additional £1.8 million being made available annually to a local community fund. Plus a £3 million habitat restoration project and a £300,000 mountain bike trail.

That's the sort of grandscale thinking we so desperately need in this country right now. Otherwise, if selfish nimbies continue to oppose every development (High-Speed Rail Link, Hartlebury Incinerator, Lenchwick Windfarm) we might as well give up and go back to the Stone Age, because our European neighbours are already way ahead of us on all these counts.

Still, two of the local councils involved in the Pen y Cymoedd windfarm project have already given the go-ahead. So not every local authority is as backward-looking, misinformed and thoroughly Age of Stupid as Wychavon.

There is hope for us yet.

Monday, 21 February 2011


What looks green but is in fact absolutely artificial?

Answer: Astroturf.

You know the stuff. It's used for all-weather sports pitches. It's plastic, but it looks a bit like the real thing.

What you might not know is that, since 1985, "astroturfing" has had another meaning altogether. It was in that year that a Texas-based Senator used the term to refer to a fake kind of "grassroots" movement.

Typically, what the US pioneers reaches us sooner or later. So, what exactly is "astroturfing"?

Basically, it's a cynical attempt by PR consultancies and lobby groups to create the semblance of public pressure. Early forms of it were developed in the States to lobby on behalf of the tobacco industry. Since then, similar campaigns have been used to oppose climate change legislation. One example concerned a supposedly amateur film, entitled "Al Gore's Penguin Army", which appeared on YouTube. The Washington Post revealed in 2006 that the "amateur" film actually came from a Washington-based PR firm working for ExxonMobil and General Motors.

Where astroturfing becomes most suspect is when the lobbyists pretend to be something quite the opposite of what they really are. Less than two years ago, another Washington-based PR firm sent out letters which appeared to come from organisations such as NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). This was in fact an attempt at undermining the Clean Energy and Security Act. Needless to say, NAACP and its sister organisation Crecendio Juntos had nothing to do with the letters.

Now, it's not just the US that has specialised in this sort of misleading behaviour and black propaganda. China has been up to it for some time, too. But what's interesting to note is that it is seemingly invariably a right-wing exercise in manipulating public opinion and political decision-making. So when a group calling itself the "Save Our Species Alliance" turned out to be a front created to lobby on behalf of the timber industry against the Endangered Species Act, no one should have been too surprised.

Here in the UK, the renewables industry is being opposed by a group calling itself the "Renewable Energy Foundation". This group is cagey about its funding (like so many astroturfing organisations). But let's face it, when a right-wing newspaper quotes the "Renewable Energy Foundation" it sounds as if this is the voice of the renewables industry, or at leat an organisation that has the best interests of renewables (and the country as a whole) at heart.

It doesn't, of course. In reality, it is lobbying against renewables in order to force the government to invest more in dirty fossil fuels and nuclear. Which, in the long term, and given the problems we face, is madness.

But it doesn't stop there. Astroturfing is more than just posing as something you're not. It also involves stooges posing as ordinary members of the public in order to bombard websites and local media with misleading nonsense. This is meant to look like a massive public outcry - the essence of a grassroots movement. But remember, astroturf has no roots. It's completely fake.

The sad fact, though, is that it's having an effect, as the atrocious Leadsom debate in Westminster the other week made clear. Republican Party-style trickery is beginning to affect the debate about renewable energy in the UK. Or rather, to derail it altogether by making sure that inadequate and foolish politicians spout endless garbage, supposedly on behalf of their constituents but in reality on behalf of those industries which want to see renewables stopped altogether so that they can poison our earth, air and water and get paid by the tax-payer to do so.

No doubt, like us here at Wind of Change, you find the arrival of disgraceful astroturfing tactics in the UK a depressing and disturbing development. You will also quite possibly begin to wonder about the kind of media outlets which foist the idiocies promoted by these astroturfing lobbyists on the public. You'll find it hard to believe that clean green energy can have become the victim of unprincipled right-wing attacks by cynical lobbyists. And you'll realise that the anti-windfarm nimby movement is essentially just a cover for their dangerous activities.

This makes it all the more important for people to hear the truth about wind power, and about renewables in general. Because astroturfing lobbyists (like the laughably misleading Renewable Energy Foundation) exist to lie about the best hope for our energy future.

And they use the morons of VVASP and similar groups to do their dirty work.

As the Arctic Monkeys said, "Don't believe the hype." Submit their claims to scrutiny. You'll find that, time after time, the anti-windfarm dunces are lying.

Lying to keep the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries in state-funded profit, and to deny our children a future.

Friday, 18 February 2011


In the whacky world of the nimby, the laws of physics don't seem to apply.

Many moons ago, we discussed one prime piece of idiocy voiced by a local nimby. When told that a conversation can be held at normal volume immediately underneath the blades of a busily working windfarm, this particular nitwit said:

"Ah yes, but sound waves travel outwards, so wind turbines get noisier the further away from them you are."

This is a rather typical nimby tactic - just say something stupid, and the person you are talking to will shut up and gawp hopelessly or spend just long enough trying to figure out what the hell you're on about that you can then move away and bother somebody else. Or (worst scenario) they'll laugh at you, because what you just said was so blisteringly, pulverisingly silly that the only reasonable reaction is to giggle.

Sound obeys the inverse square rule. Close to a sound source, that's where you hear the noise. It drops away extremely quickly as you move away. And that's a physical law. It's immutable. As far as this universe goes, that claptrap about windfarms getting noisier as you move away from them is sheer balderdash.

But these nimby myths have been spreading, egged on by dangerous groups like the Renewable Energy Foundation and the right-wing papers which publish their misleading remarks. They've even got as far as our democratically-elected representatives.

Turning, once again, to the silly debate held in Westminster last week, we find that Andrea Leadsom MP preferred just to repeat the nimby nonsense she'd heard than to do some actual research. As a consequence, most of what she said made no sense whatsoever.

Take this, for example:

"Turbines also have an aural impact. They are audible at a great distance - potentially, as far as two miles, depending on the landscape. I have been given some wonderful descriptions of the sound. It is described variously as like an aircraft continually passing overhead, a brick wrapped in a towel turning in a tumble drier, someone mixing cement in the sky or a train that never arrives. Wind turbines are often noisiest at night, and the sound is constant. One cannot get away from it and it does not stop."

Some alarming images, there ("someone mixing cement in the sky" sounds pretty apocalyptic), and just the sort of thing to get the Telegraph hot under the collar. Of course, the best way to determine whether any of this is true or not is to stop listening to nimbies telling you about it and go to a windfarm. At night, if possible. See if you can hear this brick-in-a-towel-in-a-tumble-drier. You might be surprised.

Anyway, rather than check this out, Andrea Leadsom went for an even more interesting nimby manoeuvre. When a fellow MP (who actually had a bit of a grasp of the science) pointed out that Leadsom had oversold the negatives, Andrea replied:

"I slightly take issue with the point that my hon. Friend made about the amount of time that wind turbines are actually working. The latest statistics show that, on average in the UK, they operate between 25% and 30% of the time."

Her fellow MP pointed out that "The figures across the board show that the turbines operate about 70% to 80% of the time."

So who's right? Well, guess what - the latter. Wind turbines work about 80% of the time. But wind being variable, their load capacity is about 30%, meaning that, over a whole year, the average turbine will produce 30% of what it could produce if it were able to work full pelt all of the time. This compares well with conventional power sources and is considerably more "efficient" than the average motor car.

But Andrea Leadsom didn't understand any of this. She made the usual nimby mistake of confusing load capacity (30%) with the amount of time the blades spend turning round. In short, she didn't know what she was on about.

Even so, how can the notion that wind turbines only work for 25-30% of the time (or, more realistically, 70-80% of the time) square with the idea that the noise they make is constant - "One cannot get away from it and it does not stop." How can that be? Was Leadsom trying to imply that, even when they're not actually doing anything wind turbines sound like aeroplanes constantly passing overhead? Is that possible?

No, of course it isn't. It's nimbyism. Like VVASP's early claim that the "constant noise" of wind turbines cause hair loss, premature ejaculation and worldwide famine. Even though wind turbines "don't work".

Leadsom also ignored her own government's figures and proceeded to claim that "wind energy costs about two and a half times the price of nuclear energy and twice the cost of traditional fuel sources." Her own government disagrees, because it's not true (think about it - how on earth could wind energy cost two and a half times as much as nuclear? How? Come on, how?). Leadsom also slipped in a odd remark which seemed to imply that the "fuel" used by wind power is expensive.

Anyone been paying over the odds for the wind lately?

But perhaps her crowning moment came after she had complained that the UK receives no benefits whatsoever from the manufacture of wind turbines. Another MP stood up and pointed out that wind turbines were manufactured in his constituency. Here's what Andrea Leadsom said next:

"That is music to my ears, and I hope that we will progress with that and go on to manufacture even more wind turbines and other sources of renewable energy in this country."

Hang on a sec - wasn't she supposed to be against wind turbines? Wasn't that why she called the debate in the first place? And yet now she wants Britain to be manufacturing more of them?

This is what comes of having no idea what you're on about.

A debate about wind power is a good thing, surely. But it has to be honest and it has to be informed. VVASP always refused to hold a debate because their cretinous lies would be challenged. Andrea Leadsom calls a debate and talks a lot of nonsense. How does that help Britain's future?

We've got to put a stop to all these nimby lies, once and for all. I mean, for heaven's sake - even MPs are beginning to believe them now. Of course, if they got off their complacent backsides and asked some intelligent questions, they wouldn't spout so much hogwash.

But we as a nation deserve better than this. We deserve an informed, sensible, rational, evidence-based debate. Which is what Leadsom massively failed to deliver last week.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


Here's a sobering read:

The oil giant Shell has revised its recent forecast about energy consumption. The financial crisis of 2008 reduced demand, but that has risen again. This means that Shell's prediction of a massive oil squeeze followed by a decade-long economic slowdown is back on track.

In short, as the above article puts it, "Shell suggests that one might consider running for the hills, oh, sometime around 2016 or 2017 before everyone else shows up."

Shell's prediction of an imminent energy "zone of uncertainty" can be found here:

Behind the looming sense of panic is the peak oil crisis. Basically, we're consuming more and more oil and discovering less and less.

And if the dates 2016 or 2017 have a certain ring to them, that's when Ofgen in the UK has predicted electricity shortages because of our failure to respond effectively and to allow more renewable projects, like onshore windfarms.

Looks like the middle of this decade could be rather interesting, as rising demand, falling energy availability, inadequate measures and the shabby public response to renewables conspire to create interesting times.

So it's odd to discover that green energy websites are now being trolled by fanatical anti-windfarm types, leaping on every bit of good news in order to spread the muddled messages of the so-called Renewable Energy Foundation. The government announces the new deal on community benefits from windfarms and REF and their army of misleaders call it a "bribe". Pro-wind campaigners arrive in Caithness and the local nimbies shriek "dirty tricks". Some 25-30 coalition MPs gather at Westminster Hall to spout all the usual anti-windfarm guff and stupid myths promoted by the nuclear lobby and their nimby dupes.

All that seems utterly insane in the face of the energy crises predicted by Royal Dutch/Shell (and BP, and ExxonMobil). The experts are all warning us of approaching disaster, and yet Conservative MPs, nuclear lobbyists and crazy nimbies are doing all they can to blur the issue and stall any attempt at averting the crisis.

Replying to the braindead parliamentary debate on windfarms last week, Charles Hendry (Minister of State for Climate Change) remarked that "Everything changes when oil is $100 a barrel."

Today, Brent crude hit $104 a barrel.

All of which means that everything is changing. Fast. If ever there was a time to embrace renewable alternatives before it's too late, that time is NOW.

So what are we to make of all these nimby nutcases with their foolish anti-windfarm myths? Their infiltration of green energy websites and their constant misrepresentation of the realities of wind power?

More to the point, what we will think of such nutters in a few years time, when the energy crisis really bites? Were they actively safeguarding our interests, or were they sniping at the very developers who could have got us out of the mess?

It's not too late to take precautions. Onshore windfarms are the best, cheapest, proven solution to at least some of the problems that are coming our way.

Anyone who campaigns rigorously and dishonestly against them is a fool and a traitor. They should be named and shamed. Starting with our local self-serving nimbies in VVASP.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


LEECHES. Parasites. That's what they are. And NOW one of them has attached itself to a member of BLoW.
This is the price you can find yourself paying if you STAND UP for renewables. Some nutcase will decide that you need "EDUCATING". You will become the OBJECT of their personal ATTACKS. They will vomit their IDIOCY all over you.
The MANIAC whose latest opus is featured here clearly imagines that a member of BLoW (who only got involved in the windfarm campaign when the nutters of VVASP roundly ABUSED him at a public drop-in session organised by ScottishPower Renewables) was somehow personally responsible for the proposed Lenchwick Windfarm.
The selfsame MORON seems to be of the DEMENTED opinion that "COMMON SENSE" prevailed at the Wychavon planning committee meeting (when a more intelligent assessment would be that NIMBY LIES and political ARM-TWISTING were what led to the disastrous decision).
Apparently, this WEIRDO thinks that the "PUBLIC will always WIN - clearly unaware of the fact that the "PUBLIC lost that particular battle - although it has not yet lost the war.
Ah, but - here's an interesting conundrum. Look at the signature.
What in the name of everything that's holy is a "very"HAPPY" "ANTI" windfarm SUPPORTER"? Seriously, what is it?
An anti-windfarm supporter? Does that gobbledegook mean that this HEADCASE is anti windfarms or anti windfarm supporters? (The letter, along with the last one they sent, might indicate the latter.) Or is there some new form of LANGUAGE being developed by the deranged and deluded "ANTI" windfarm brigade?
That seems very likely. It would mean that it is possible to become an anti-windfarm supporter, even though to the man in the street that means nothing. You can become a supporter of anti-windfarms. You will cease to be a "protester" or an "opponent" or even a "campaigner". No: you become a "supporter". A "supporter" who happens to be anti-everything.
The reality is that this crazy abuse of language is typical of the anti-wind movement. Take the so-called "Renewable Energy Foundation", a privately-funded group which regularly briefs the nimbies' favourite rags, the Telegraph and Mail, against windfarms. (Much of the funding for the REF comes from a chap who is known for investing in the chaos that climate change will bring - yes: you heard that right - REF's investor wants climate change to cause enormous disruption, because then he'll make a fortune).
Mr or Mrs DIMWIT (above) has happily quoted the gormless Daily Express when it has splashed anti-windfarm propaganda from the REF over its rubbish pages. Really, a group calling itself "Renewable Energy Foundation" spinning anti-windfarm BS to such colouring books as the Heil, the Torygraph and the Abscess??? Does that mean that the "Renewable Energy Foundation" is in fact anti-renewables - a sort of national body for anti-windfarm supporters??
Er, yes. Journalists from have spoken to the director of "policy and research" at the Renewable Energy Foundation, one Dr John Constable ...
Hang on! The leader of our local anti-windfarm supporters is a Doctor, too! What discipline is this that specialises in misrepresenting who and what you are in order to mislead huge numbers of people? What's it called? Is it the same qualification as Dr Goebbels had?
Anyway, it turns out that Dr Constable doesn't really care for renewables at all. Not very much. No, he clearly prefers nuclear and - wait for it - fossil fuel systems as energy providers.
In other words, he campaigns ON BEHALF OF those dirty industries which would LOSE OUT if renewables were given a fair crack of the whip. Hmmnn ...
And, what's more, he opposes any subsidies for renewables, EVEN THOUGH his preferred industries - nuclear, fossil fuels - have received much, much more in the way of subsidies than renewables will ever receive!
Basically, the mouthpiece for the anti-windfarm supporters of the Renewable Energy Foundation (see how weird this all gets?) is against renewables, against modest subsidies for renewables, passionately opposed to windfarms and deeply in favour of coal, oil, gas and nuclear.
Well, here's something refreshing. Some good news, plain talking and basic honesty. As usual, and in stark contrast to the BLOODY LIARS of the anti-windfarm supporters pro-renewables not-a-protest campaign, it comes from the windfarm industry.
RenewableUK really does what its name suggests - it lobbies on behalf of renewables (unlike the Renewable Energy Foundation, which is very dodgy) - and it has announced that it has secured an industry-wide protocol. This means that, henceforth, community payments to the tune of a minimum £1,000 per megawatt of installed capacity will be available for local use wherever a windfarm gets the go-ahead. In response, the Government is backing RenewableUK's call for business rates from turbines to be kept and administered by the local authority.
(Which means that, rather than spending "a bomb" in trying to justify its lunatic anti-windfarm decision, Wychavon District Council could have been receiving a huge windfall every year for twenty-five years. D'oh!!)
As the honest and open side of the windfarm argument puts it, the local and regional economy currently benefits from about £1 million per megawatt of installed capacity over the lifetime of a windfarm development. So, everybody wins.
But then you get traitors like the Renewable Energy Foundation and their brainwashed ranks of anti-windfarm supporters trying to make things a whole lot worse for everyone (well, everyone apart from that guy who's gambling on climate change being very bad indeed and doesn't want to see any nice clean wind projects making things better).
They say truth is the first casualty of war. So we might as well admit that the anti-windfarm supporters have gone to war with the honest ones among us, against the interests of Great Britain and Planet Earth. And their lies just keep on piling up.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Apparently, more or less everybody accepts the need for renewables. But in many cases, they do so on their own terms.

Or, as they put it, renewable energy projects (read: "windfarms") must be in "appropriate" places. Which, in the case of every nimby group everywhere, is essentially "not here".

Now, the word "appropriate" can be rather slippery, especially where the windfarm debate is concerned. Answering the assorted Colonel Blimps of the backbenches last Thursday, the Minister of State for Renewable Energy, Charles Hendry, commented:

Energy plants need to be sited in appropriate locations, and common sense tells us that that is the right way forward.

Yep - who could argue with that? Except that no one seems prepared to explain what these "appropriate locations" are, or where they are, or why they are so "appropriate".

From the perspective of energy generation, an appropriate site for a windfarm is one where there is a fair amount of wind. And where the grid - national or local - can be easily accessed. And where it is possible to install and maintain turbines. And where there aren't any migrating birds, scheduled ancient monuments, seismic anomalies, broadcast transmitters, RAF flight paths, flood risks or tall buildings.

So windfarm developers have certain places which are worth considering as windfarm sites. One of these, as Worcestershire County Council acknowledged in 2008, is Church Lench.

Oh, but no - Church Lench is apparently "inappropriate". Why? Because the nimbies say so.

What makes Church Lench inappropriate is hard to define, other than the fact that a handful of self-important residents don't want to see a windfarm nearby and have been prepared to put the fear of God into their neighbours in order to manufacture a completely doolally anti-windfarm consensus. Which means that a site which is absolutely appropriate, according to all objective definitions, is inappropriate, according to a few narrow-minded home-owners.

And this is where the coalition government is going to find itself in a whole heap of trouble. Because they want windfarms to be sited where the community is happy with the idea. And as we've seen, it only takes a small cluster of liars and bullies to turn a community against such a development, regardless of the demonstrable benefits it would bring.

The fantastically illogical Localism Bill currently being driven through parliament exemplifies the government's woolly thinking. Basically, it provides for a "neighbourhood forum" to decide whether or not their locale is appropriate for a windfarm.

A "neighbourhood forum" could consist of just three people. None of whom actually need to live in the area (it helps if they feel that they might want to live there at some point).

This is insane, by anybody's standards. It means that while the wind power industry is extremely capable of identifying the optimum sites for windfarms, based on the criteria given above, a tiny community of local or not-so-local fanatics can veto all this on the grounds that, in their opinion, their own neighbourhood is inappropriate.

That makes a nonsense of the UK's renewables targets. Rather than relying on science and expertise to determine where the best sites for wind energy projects might be, we allow tinpot village dictators to rule their own petty fiefdoms out of the equation. We let mindless hoodlums like VVASP decide where "appropriate" might be.

Or, rather, where "appropriate" isn't. Because nimby nutters like the VVASP brigade never suggest alternative locations (apart from out at sea, or just a very long way away). It turns out, then, that sites which are evidently appropriate by all sensible standards magically become inappropriate because a fanatical nimby says that's what it is. No reasonable alternatives are put forward. The only argument is "anywhere but here".

So much for the national interest.

Monday, 14 February 2011


... then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Gandhi's pithy description of the process was not entirely his own. A similar quote appears in an American trade union address in 1914:

And, my friends, in this story you have a history of the entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.

Much the same, we suspect, can be said of the pro-wind movement, and especially those beleagured individuals who find themselves stuck in the middle of an aggressive, mendacious and utterly irresponsible anti-windfarm campaign.

First, VVASP studiously ignored the fact that a significant number of local people were actually in favour of the proposed Lenchwick Windfarm. Then they tried to belittle the opinions and knowledge of those forward-thinking people. Then they attacked, bullied, threatened and abused them. But eventually there will come a time when those who stood up for renewables and wind power in particular are acknowledged as the public heroes they truly are.

This should come as a salve to those who caught any of the parliamentary debate held in Westminster Hall last Thursday.

Something very odd is going on, and the dire debate in Westminster encapsulated it. Let's call it the High Water Mark of Idiot Nimbyism and Phoney Wind Myths. To put it simply, a handful of Tory backbenchers, pumped full of anti-windfarm gibberish by their more deluded constituents, attempted to call a halt to the development of onshore windfarms in the UK.

On the one hand, this represented simply the last manoeuvre in the pathetic right-wing backlash against any visible solutions to the looming threat of climate change and a brewing energy crisis. The ostriches of Middle England don't want to be reminded that there will be trouble ahead, and so they are doing all they can to ensure that future generations enjoy none of the benefits which they have taken for granted.

It's selfish short-termism of the worst kind, ideologically motivated and reliant entirely on false information.

But there's another way of looking at it. The nuclear lobby is unhappy that the government's own predictions see very little input from nuclear in the years ahead. Decades of eye-watering subsidies to the nuclear industry have come to an end. And the cheerleaders for nukes (who want all that lovely government money that's no longer there) are determined to reverse this laudable trend.

Behind all those identikit local nimby groups with their tiresomely familiar propaganda and cretinous claims are lobbyists for nukes. They pump out the misleading anti-wind propaganda and advise the dimwits (like VVASP) to call themselves "pro-renewables". They want renewables to be swept aside so that nuclear becomes the only option. That way, they get their hands on vast mounds of public money, and millions of years worth of nuclear waste piles up.

The crappy debate in Westminster Hall was the depressing outcome of all this shady nuclear lobbying (remember, most of this lobbying is not pro-nuclear but rather anti-wind). If the demented parliamentarians who were so eager to slag off wind power on behalf of their more mendacious voters had their way, a clean green future would become impossible and nuclear would rule.

(Let's not forget that nuclear is a fossil fuel-based system and that there's only so much uranium about the place - so the problem would inevitably arise again before too long.)

If there's a truly despicable aspect to the phoney wind debate it concerns something called "the community". As most parts of the country will happily tell you, the majority of anti-windfarm protesters are not longterm country dwellers but recent arrivals. They moved to a country area rather recently because that's what the Telegraph and the Mail told them to do. It's a sign of social status, a way of showing off your enormous mortgage. Move to the country, and you've made it!

But that's not community. In reality, many rural communities have been pretty much destroyed by the influx of city types. And yet the government, responding (on the whole) quite rationally to the ludicrous myths of the anti-wind MPs, insists that windfarms should only happen where "the community" is happy with the idea, and that, if necessary, "the community" should receive special packages of incentives.

In other words, those who could afford to escape to the country should get MONEY for having a windfarm nearby.

Now, that's not in itself such a bad idea. Until you realise that the vast majority of people living near windfarms absolutely love them for what they are, not because they might get a few extra quid because of them. And, of course, the very people who are ruining their host communities are the ones who theoretically stand to gain from something that they ought to accept anyway.

Offering a bribe to Tory voters in the hope that they will then tolerate something which others have already accepted as a brilliant thing seems a wee bit crass, really. Especially when you notice how dishonest the anti-windfarm campaigns tend to be, how driven by gross intolerance and a fanaticism that is hard to explain.

Could the cash rewards for having a windfarm somewhere over the hill not go to those who belong to those communities but can't afford to live there anymore because of the influx of urban immigrants? Why reward the nastiest, most fraudulent members of society?

Indeed, why perpetuate the outrageous myth that windfarms are impositions on rural communities? Why not listen to those who already have one nearby - the vast majority, that is, and not the occasional obsessive moaner who appeals so much to the likes of VVASP?

Why go along with the sick pretence that windfarms harm communities, when the evidence points to the opposite?

In fact, why not stop listening to the gin-and-Jaguar brigade and actually do something for Britain, for once? Why not do what France does and just install windfarms for the good of the community, the economy and the planet?

Why let the nuclear lobby and the worst of the nimby fringe dictate policy? They are the enemies of the people. No one will put up monuments to them in the years ahead.

Let's just hope, for the sake of sanity and the future, that we are now at stage three of Gandhi's process. They tried to ignore us. They tried to laugh at us. Now they're attacking us.

Which should mean that, pretty soon, we win.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Wychavon District Council has published its latest keeping-you-in-touch brochure, which includes some revealing poll results.

Worcestershire Viewpoint, a "citizens panel partnership", has taken some soundings. An amazing 71% of respondents support the idea of "large-scale regeneration of renewable energy". This will no doubt be music to the ears of those notable pro-renewables campaigners in VVASP, who are wholeheartedly in favour of renewables, as long as they're somebody else's problem.

Hydro-electric power schemes seem particular popular in Worcestershire, with 67% of respondents indicating support for such ventures. Wind power comes in second, at 57%.

Now that's interesting: 57% of Worcestershire residents in favour of windfarms. Why? Because a poll conducted by Church Lench Parish Council in 2009 revealed that 57% of households in Church Lench were against the idea of a windfarm where they might be able to see it.

Initially, VVASP were wholly opposed to the poll being carried out. When the results came in, they changed their tune. Basically, they altered the outcome and trumpeted an illusory "82% of residents" as being against the windfarm proposals. That same falsified figure was quoted by Karen Lumley MP in her speech to the Wychavon District Council planning committee.

So, by the same token, we would be justified in issuing a press release stating that 82% of Worcestershire residents want windfarms. It wouldn't be true, of course, which is why we won't be doing it. Because we're not VVASP.

Still, 57% in favour is pretty good. It's a clear majority. And, interestingly, 61% of respondents to the Worcestershire Viewpoint survey agreed that "more consultation would lead to greater acceptance of large-scale renewable energy". This is another point made repeatedly by BLoW and Wind of Change - if the local authorities had bothered to inform and educate residents about the benefits of wind power, VVASP wouldn't have been able to tell so many lies with near impunity.

Overall, then, it seems that Worcestershire would be happy to see some decent renewable projects happening here. Which would be a good thing, as the West Midlands is currently rather bereft of them. The red-faced, swivel-eyed, snorty-nostrilled nimbies really do seem to be of the belief that less attractive parts of the country - like Cornwall, Wales, the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District - should be providing them with electricity so that they can gaze out over their uniquely picturesque landscape without having to worry about what's making the lights work.

But what, one wonders, will the District Councillors of Wychavon make of these poll results? Will they argue (as they did over their visit to Burtonwold Windfarm) that they're not comparing "like with like", and that it doesn't matter how many ordinary people want windfarms - if the misguided numpties of Lenchland say "No", then that's that?

Or will they admit that they voted, almost unanimously, against the interests of everybody except for a handful of proven liars?

Have we really reached the point where the will of the people is of absolutely no relevance whatsoever, compared with the belligerence of a selfish and intolerant fringe?

Maybe so. It's called the Big Society.

Friday, 11 February 2011


The bill for the solicitor's appearance at the planning committee hearing two weeks ago hasn't arrived yet, but when it does - who will be paying it?

The latest set of accounts for the now notorious "Windfarm Working Party" have been acquired by BLoW (Back Local Windfarms). What they show is that, after Church Lench Parish Council had overspent its Windfarm Working Party budget on too many interventions from a solicitor (although, bless his heart, the solicitor yielded to their pleas and cut his invoice in half - don't you just love solicitors??), Norton and Lenchwick Parish Council withdrew from what they had known all along was an exercise in bias. They demanded their share of the money that was left. So, in return for an investment of £750, Norton and Lenchwick received £30 (oh, and 29p), in addition to the knowledge that the opinions of their parishioners had been completely ignored by the fatheads of VVASP and Church Lench.

But the other Parish Councils involved in this whole dubious misappropriation of tax-payers' money look like they too might have got cold feet. Having overspent their whopping £4,500 budget for fighting the windfarm by any means available (sorry, that should read: "gathering and sharing information both in favour of and against windfarms"), the twits in charge of the Windfarm Working Party demanded another contribution of tax-payers' money to their belligerent cause. That's when Norton & Lenchwick pulled out.

Harvington instantly coughed up another £50. Harvington's role in this whole thing has been rather like Tony Blair's to Church Lench's George W. Bush. If you like, Harvington turned itself into the blushing, panting cheerleader for the bullies and ideologues of Lench - even though less than one third of Harvington households expressed opposition to the windfarm!!! Yes: Harvington as a whole didn't give a damn, but its Parish Councillors completely ignored that fact in order to pursue a Lench-like blinkered nimbyism for no good reason.

Apart from Harvington, though, who else has channelled yet more public money into the irresponsibly-managed coffers of the Windfarm Working Party?

Well, nobody, so far. Which is why Church Lench Parish Council has had to transfer £125 of its own money into its Let's Get Everybody Else To Pay For Our Solicitor Fund.

All of which strongly indicates what we've been saying all along: the Windfarm Working Party was a thinly-veiled putsch, a means of hijacking the local Parish Councils, taking their money and dictating what their response to the windfarm planning application would be, regardless of the opinions of their residents and the pros and cons of wind power. In other words, an absolutely blatant abuse of local democracy by a bunch of selfish nimbies who expect everybody else to pay for their mindless opposition to a Good Thing.

Now, a few days ago we mentioned an article published by about the Windfarm Working Party and the rather awful precedent it might have set for an England destroyed by fanatical Telegraph-reading nimbies. That article is currently the Most Discussed on the whole, rather busy, BusinessGreen website.

In that article, those Parish Councils involved in the outrageous heist known as the Windfarm Working Party tie themselves up in knots trying to justify their utter failure to keep the Church Lench nookies in check. One, for example, makes a very interesting distinction:

"... the working group had no meetings with VVASP but did request one meeting with two representatives of the action group ..."

So, the Windfarm Working Party had no meetings with VVASP, apart from the meetings it had with representatives of VVASP, which is obviously a different thing altogether.

What is more, some members of the Windfarm Working Party acccompanied ScottishPower Renewables on "wind farm visits and tours". Well, why didn't they mention this earlier??? And why have ScottishPower Renewables been so reticent about these secret trysts with the WWP (sorry - representatives of the WWP)???

In fact, SPR have never been all that coy about the fact that they did organise a visit to a windfarm back in 2009. Eleven local residents attended, and all came back massively reassured, having discovered that VVASP had been telling porkies about windfarms from the start.

Are we now to understand that "some" of those who went on that visit were in fact (future) members of the Windfarm Working Party? Who then completely changed their minds about windfarms as soon as they started meeting in a house with a dirty great VVASP placard on the front gate?

Hmmnnn ... difficult to tell what's going on, really. But it would appear that members of the Windfarm Working Party are sort of running for cover. They don't want to throw any more of their precept money at Church Lench, and they don't want to get caught out having betrayed their parishioners, and they're worried that their massive betrayal of the local and national interest, the fact that they were completely suckered by the loons of Church Lench, will become public knowledge. So they're telling the press anything they can think of to get themselves off the hook.

Church Lench should be proud - their little proteges in the parishes have learnt their lessons well. But somebody really ought to tell the nimbies of Lench that their WWP ship is sinking fast - the rats are jumping overboard, and one day somebody's going to have some pretty serious questions to ask about the Captain.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


At the planning meeting the other week, certain District Councillors were very unhappy to hear about the intimidation, abuse and divisive tactics deployed by our local anti-windfarm bunch. No doubt, this was because the nimbies had fallen back on their "Everso Humble" routine when dealing with decision-makers, reserving their spite and aggression for those in the immediate area who did not agree with them.

Well, since then, the ugly face of VVASP has revealed itself. The only Councillor to speak and vote in favour of the windfarm received a glut of angry emails, accusing her of voting "against policy" (what policy was this, then? The "agree with VVASP or else" policy?)

A member of BLoW (Back Local Windfarms) who also spoke in favour of the proposed Lenchwick Windfarm received a barely-literate letter, scrawled by somebody with issues. With typical nimby cowardice, this letter was anonymous.


Now you have LOST the 2 1/2 year campaign for WINDFARMS (MOSTLY AT TAX-PAYERS EXPENSE) i.e. 15-1 against pretty unanimous I would say.
Perhaps you could now come back into the real world & show more RESPECT & CONSIDERATION for your fellow citizens.
Why not start cycling round our beautiful countryside? (Which you tried to SPOIL) ...
As for any appeal, forget it (NO CHANCE).

This bizarre missive came with a couple of cuttings from the Daily Express - a paper aimed at those who are still fighting the Second World War (look out for the inevitable forthcoming headline, "PRINCESS DI KILLED BY WIND TURBINE")

The Express, in its gaga wisdom, quoted both the Country Guardian and the Renewable Energy Foundation. The first campaigns nationally against windfarms and has tried to bury its links to the nuclear lobby. The second is funded entirely by private donations (oh?) and claims to be campaigning for renewables while consistently publishing anti-windfarm propaganda and trying to alter the Renewable Obligation Certificates (the only actual subsidy available for renewable projects).

So, basically, two fanatical anti-wind power groups are quoted as "proof" that windfarms don't work. This is clearly evidence enough for our anonymous letter writer who doesn't care much about research, common sense or civilised behaviour.

And today, has published an interesting article which elevates the whole Lenchwick campaign onto the national stage. The piece examines whether or not the laughable "Windfarm Working Party" did set out to discover "impartial" information about windfarms or whether it was really designed to work alongside VVASP and to use its large doses of public money in battling the proposed windfarm and whispering sweet nonsense into the ears of local councillors.

As the article makes clear, this is the sort of narrow-minded buffoonery we can expect to see a great deal more of if Pickles, the coalition government's Fat Controller, gets his way over the Decentralisation and Localism Bill. Basically, in the appalling event of that stupid law being passed, nimby groups around the country can derail progress and make sure that the views of the majority are ignored (just like at Lenchwick, then).

None of this makes Lenchwick look very good to an impartial outsider. The District Councillors might, in the main, have been fooled by VVASP's act and its outrageously misleading false evidence, but the rest of the country might be beginning to get a glimpse at what really went on in the Lenchwick area - the flagrant abuse of local democratic institutions and tax-payers' money by deranged nimbies who can't see beyond their own narrow, short-term interest.

Well, if the nutters can quote Country Guardian (the shady group that advised them to call themselves "pro-renewables") and the Renewable Energy Foundation (which doesn't really like renewables), Wind of Change can quote Maria McCaffery MBE, Chief Executive of RenewableUK (an industry body that does have the best interests of the UK in mind):

"Perhaps the reason Nimbyism has a reputation for social irresponsibility and shortsightedness is precisely because it neglects the pressing demands of energy security, economic growth and climate change in favour of a narrow and particular self interest."

Taking issue with Alexander Chancellor's somewhat gormless piece in The Guardian - the proposed windfarm which Chancellor has an irrational grudge against would be THREE MILES away from his government-restored stately piles ... so where does that leave the "2km OK" argument?? - McCaffery argues that the problem with nimbyism "is not that it is politically incorrect. The problem is that it does not offer solutions. It says no at a time when we need yes. We need energy from renewables, and we need jobs. Wind can deliver both."

And she signs off with a P.S.:

"Oh, and by the way, windfarms do not spook horses - this is just another myth."

We seem, then, to be stuck in a vicious rut. Nimbies pose as concerned residents when, in reality, they are simply pursuing a kneejerk right-wing agenda, supported by shady groups funded by private donations and dedicated to helping out the failing nuclear industry, and they rely entirely on myths and lies in order to promote their mindlessly irresponsible agenda. Local Councillors are hoodwinked. The UK (with the noble exception of Scotland) falls ever further behind.

And even when they win, the nimbies bare their fangs and attack those who have an eye on the future, a sense of patriotism and a heartfelt concern for others.

Monday, 7 February 2011


Given the potential enormity of the consequences of climate change, it is perhaps not too surprising that some people stick their fingers in their ears and go "La, la, la - I can't hear you!"

That's not the same thing as trying to pretend that science has failed to prove that global warming is happening, or that there is no correlation between mankind's activities and climate chaos. After all, the Met Office has decades of detailed statistics at its disposal. The climate change sceptics don't. So, who are you going to trust? Those agencies which have been monitoring the situation for many years and have observed an increase in global temperatures, or the right-wingers who want you to believe that there has been no such increase?

More pressing, in many ways, is a problem that we hear less of. It's called peak oil.

Now, peak oil has a specific meaning. Basically, it's what happens when half of the available oil supplies in any particular region have been extracted. When oil is first struck, it spurts out of the ground under tremendous pressure. But from day one, that pressure begins to fall. Steadily, it gets harder and more expensive to extract that oil, until eventually it makes no real economic sense to do so.

The United States reached peak oil in 1970 (this was accurately predicted fourteen years earlier). Almost immediately, the world suffered the first of its major oil crises. Another happened in 1979, causing mayhem to the global economy.

Most authorities now accept that the world has reached peak oil - or is about to, at any rate. Oil prices continue to head northwards. There's even a pretty sound argument that the recent global economic crash was precipitated, not so much by subprime mortgages and banks behaving like reckless youths, but by the ever-spiralling cost of oil.

The global economy has been built on oil for about as long as anybody can remember. And as oil continues to get more expensive and more dangerous to extract, the price of oil will continue to rocket. This will have severe knock-on effects on just about everything.

Together with climate change and a mushrooming global population, peak oil represents a looming crisis of almost Biblical proportions. And, unlike the great global warming crisis, it's difficult to deny. In short, we're in trouble. Big trouble.

In 1977, President Carter warned us all about this. He was ignored, and Big Oil took over the White House. The opportunity to take sensible steps to avert catastrophe was delayed.

Meanwhile, the renewables industry was born. The US made its first experiments with wind energy as a result of the oil crises of the 70s. Fiercely opposed by right-wing interests, renewables have slowly and steadily grown. Various bodies, including the World Wildlife Fund, are now beginning to look forward to a time when at least 95% of Europe's energy, and potentially 100% of global energy, is produced by renewables (circa 2050, if we all get our acts together). The question is - will peak oil, climate change and too many human beings on the planet wreak phenomenal havoc before then?

It is monstrous that anti-windfarm campaigners claim to be defending "our way of life" when the threats to everybody's way of life do not come from wind turbines, but from the consequences of not taking the appropriate steps in good time. VVASP recently emailed their supporters to warn about the "harm" to people's lives from the Lenchwick Windfarm if a planning appeal goes ahead and is successful. Not only was that statement fatuous, misleading and utterly self-serving ... it couldn't have been more misguided. While the world waits for the perfect storm to strike - peak oil and massive hikes in oil prices, extreme weather events, mass shifting of populations, wars over precious resources, etc. etc., to pretend that people's lives will be harmed by a windfarm is fanatically irresponsible and grossly, sickeningly stupid.

Be in no doubt: peak oil is a massive problem, and it's a lot closer than we think. Opposing urgently-needed renewable developments on the protecting-our-way-of-life grounds is insane. It's missing the point by a million miles. It's making sure that everybody - and particular the generations to come - suffers as a result of our present-day selfishness, short-sightedness, criminal negligence and inability to tell the truth. It is madness of the worst kind.

Anyone wishing to know more about peak oil can email Wind of Change and we'll send out a report authored by Hans Zandvliet and released only last month. Read that report, and then decide how long we can continue to bury our heads in the sand and shout loud lies about harmless windfarms in order to "defend" our way of life.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


Compare and contrast these two statements:

A: "The huge turbines would be grotesque alien features. The applicant is a large, powerful, multi-national company with massive resources. We are a small village. We are looking to you for protection. We need your help ... We are relieved we got the decision and we are very grateful to the councillors. Of course, we know this isn't over. We fully expect Scottish Power Renewables to appeal. It has the budget and no reason not to appeal. We are already planning the next stage of the campaign."

B: "Today's planning committee decision to reject the wind-farm application is the right one. Large wind turbines should be more than two kilometres from homes and preferably offshore. We are aware that this may not be the end of resident's plight. The applicant is a large corporation with substantial parent company financial backing. They have the funds to force an appeal. We will fight on."

Those two statements were published within a day of each other, one locally, the other in the East Midlands. It seems that all anti-windfarm nimby groups sound the same.

Witness the special pleading, the "we're so tiny and they're so huge" whining, the claims that wind energy companies will only pursue an appeal because they have the finances to do so - not because they're looking to ensure that the UK still has an electricity supply in a few years' time. The boringly familiar notion that all country dwellers live in a uniquely pretty, unspoilt landscape, which must be protected (i.e., reserved for wealthy home-owners) at all costs. The phoney David-vs-Goliath stance, the silly guff about windfarms being permissible as long as the nimbies can't see them, the universal nimby agreement that local councillors voting against the national interest are doing the right thing.

Looked at in this light - the generic anti-everything nimby approach, which sounds amazingly similar wherever it is encountered - the picture begins to alter. Suddenly, it's not a gross, overcapitalised multinational standing over isolated communities, but a co-ordinated nimby movement opposing progress, regardless of the harm done to the nation. The David-vs-Goliath argument can only stand up where it is one tiny hamlet fighting something awful (like a nuclear power station) against overwhelming odds. Where it's every village in Middle England relying on the same hideous tactics of lies, bullying, gerrymandering and playground-style peer pressure, then something else is going on.

What that might be was amply illustrated by a strange piece in The Guardian, which also came out at the same time as the identikit nimby moans printed above. Alexander Chancellor is very pleased that the Government awarded his family two massive grants to renovate the ancestral piles and their extensive grounds (a strange kind of socialism of which, it would seem, Chancellor wholeheartedly approves). But now the 'view' from his 17th-century pavillions is 'threatened' by a proposed windfarm. Now, obviously that cannot be allowed to happen. Tax-payers' money spent on tarting up aristocratic mansions is fine, of course, but coordinating a forward-looking, clean, green and effective response to the twin issues of climate change and energy security - no, never!!! Not if it affects the view!

As usual, the countryside around Chancellor's publicly-paid for properties is "unspoiled". In reality, there is no countryside in the UK that counts as "unspoiled", as anybody with a grasp of history would know. But, like all the other areas bristling with nimby obstructionism, his part of South Northants is that mythical realm of unspoiledness in which unicorns prance about and golden bunnies frolic under permanent rainbows.

It's the same special pleading, backed up by the same nimby myths and misleading codswallop (Chancellor falls back on that same bilge about poisonous lakes in China that was revealed as way off the mark in our last post). All in all, it's the same old Toryism, frantically seeking to preserve its privileges ("unspoilt views") against the pressing need for practicable solutions to very real problems.

In France, they do things differently. Sarkozy recognised a few years ago that his country's reliance on nuclear energy (which is far from renewable, being dependent on diminishing fossil fuel resources) was a case of too many eggs in one basket - besides which, rising global temperatures meant that, on occasion, France's entire nuclear fleet has to be switched off for safety reasons. So a massive investment in wind energy got underway - and it continues (in spite of what certain Conservative politicians would have us believe).

Over there, they just install windfarms. La Belle France seems to welcome them, the locals throwing parties whenever a new windfarm starts operating. And so, once again, our nearest neighbours and eternal rivals march ahead, while we allow ourselves to get mired in endless planning disputes, thwarted by nimby groups who make up crazy stories just so that their views don't get spoilt.

Makes you proud to be British, really, doesn't it?

Thursday, 3 February 2011


For all those who were wondering why our occasional visitor Athena knows nothing about wind power, the answer is now clear. She reads the Daily Heil.

Recently, the Heil ran a story which Athena couldn't wait to tell us about. According to that appalling rag, the UK's wind power industry is responsible for a toxic lake in China. Why? Because of the rare earths used in wind turbine manufacture. They're not actually all that rare, but they are difficult to extract. Lots of acid is used, and that has led to the existence of a huge, poisonous lake. Oh dear.

Well, let's not get too discouraged. Those same rare earths are also used in aeroplanes, computers and laptops, mobile phones, iPod headphones, batteries, solar panels ... and currently, about 4% of Britain's offshore wind turbines use them. But there aren't really any onshore turbines in the UK which currently rely on these rare earths (actually, the one used in turbines - of the offshore variety - is called Neodymium).

Now, that's odd. Because the pro-renewables group VVASP has repeatedly said how keen it is on offshore windfarms. And yet these are the ones which tend to use Neodynium for their permanent magnets.

But let's hope that Athena is as good as her word and is now getting rid of all her computers, laptops, mobiles, iPods and cancelling all flights. You know, just to be consistent.

Approximately one per cent of all the rare earth metals produced by China are used by Europe's wind power industry. Neodymium, which does get used in turbines, accounts for about one-fifth of China's rare earth production. So it's rather misleading of the Daily Heil to pretend that Britain's wind industry is causing the poisoned lake problem. In fact, most of the rare earths go to Japan to be used in consumer electronics. So Daily Fail hacks working away at their computers are as responsible for the problem as anybody.

And China is finally accepting that its global image as a dreadful polluter is doing it no favours, so it has started to regulate these things. This will mean that high-tech industries will start looking elsewhere for the rare earth metals - where there is a level-playing field of regulation, there's little cause to go to China for these substances.

So, by reading the Daily Wail and insisting, against all common sense, on actually believing it, Athena is getting herself horribly and hopelessly confused.

Anyone who really wants to know about the Daily Heil's disgraceful lack of interest in the facts and its dreadful treatment of its innocent victims (non-wind related) is invited to go here and have a bit of a read:

You'll probably never want to read that fascist bogroll ever again.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


In these straitened times, it's a nice, if only too rare, thing to hear good news about jobs.

So how wonderful to discover that employment in the UK's burgeoning wind energy industry has almost doubled over the past three years.

At a time when the economic news has been pretty grim, and appears only to be going from bad to worse, a study undertaken by Warwick University's Institute for Employment Research and Cambridge Econometrics has revealed that the wind energy sector is bearing up admirably.

More than 6,000 people are now employed by firms associated with onshore windfarms, compared with around 3,100 by offshore wind and nearly 900 working on marine energy projects. A similar survey undertaken in 2008 showed that just 4,800 full time equivalent employees were working across all three sectors.

Between 2007/8 and 2009/10, employment in the wind power industry rose by 91%. Which makes it pretty much unique, where the British economy is concerned. Evidently, wind power really is a growth industry.

There are, of course, denialists who will claim that all this employment is down solely to government subsidies - but as we've seen, they're incapable of talking sense or getting their facts right. Intriguingly, one person who pointed out the high level of Danish subsidies to their wind power industry implicitly confirmed that Denmark is continuing to invest in wind energy, contrary to the false claims put about by nimby groups, pro-nuclear lobbyists and certain wayward politicians.

Of course, there's a long way to go. Only today, a joint study by Accenture and Barclays has called upon European governments to invest some 2.9 trillion euros in renewable energy and low-carbon infrastructure over the next decade. That's right: Barclays and Accenture - hardly the greenest and most eco-friendly of institutions. Approximately one quarter of that investment should go towards funding low-carbon electricity production, say the report's authors.

Taken together, these two up-to-the-minute reports reveal a very clear picture. Wind energy is blossoming at a time when so many other sectors are struggling. Economists are demanding massive investment in renewables. The future is bright, the future is green.

So how on earth do we shut up the looney brigade who keep trying to turn back the clock? Suggestions on a postcard, please.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


As the Storyville documentary broadcast on BBC4 last night made abundantly clear, the key movers in the Climate Change Scepticism movement all cluster together on the political hard right. Several studies have proven that watching Fox News makes you progressively more stupid - and which network has been most active in attacking the climate change science? Yep - good old Rupert Murdoch's neo-fascist channel.

In the UK, there is a remarkable overlap between climate change denial and those who were close to Margaret Thatcher during her premiership. Which suggests that the issue isn't about whether the climate is changing, global temperatures rising, and the most likely cause being CO2 emissions. No - the argument is really about whether we take any responsibility for all this or not. On the weirder fringes of right-wing politics, they consider this to be an issue of "freedom".

So, in order for them to have the "freedom" to do whatever they like, millions - perhaps billions - of people will have to suffer, and who knows what future generations will be up against. Just to secure these maniacs an illusion of "freedom".

Perish the thought that governments should do what the vast majority of scientists insist that they should - take steps to limit the damage done by our own actions. No, that would be "Hitlerish". Better to let non-scientists cast doubt on the hard and fast scientific data. Better to let demagogues mislead the people.

Heigh-ho - quite similar to Wind Farm Myth-Mongering, then. In fact, there is a clear crossover between climate change scepticism and anti-windfarm bullshit.

It seems that Karen Lumley MP is not the only Conservative backbencher to have developed an irrational grudge against wind energy and to have abused her position in order to support a discredited nimby group. Andrea Leadsom is also leading the charge against wind power on behalf of a narrow-minded, right-wing minority.

In a parliamentary debate before the Backbench Business Committee, Leadsom did her best to claim that windfarm developers are only in it for a "fast buck". Now, normally, that sort of behaviour appeals to Tories immensely. It's called "enterprise". But apparently, where windfarms are concerned, this is a Bad Thing.

It's also nonsense, of course, because anyone looking for a "fast buck" probably wouldn't go through that painful and frustrating process of trying to get a windfarm accepted in the face of Nimby liars and thugs.

Leadsom also rehashed those myths about other countries - France, in this case, and Denmark, "Europe's leading onshore wind farm perpetrator" (yes, you heard that right: "perpetrator") - giving up on wind power. Well, during the period that Leadsom and her fellow nutters think Denmark gave up on wind energy, the Danes in fact replaced all their old turbines with new ones and in 2009 added another 82 megawatts of installed wind capacity. That same year, France installed a staggering 1,090 megawatts of wind capacity. In the twelve years between 1997 and 2009, Denmark perpetrated so much wind power that the costs of electricity generation in that country fell by 25%.

Typical of the Tory right, Leadsom fails to understand the Renewable Obligation Certificates and bigs up the "subsidies" which so many windfarm developers allegedly crave. As we've said before, renewable energy generators only receive subsidies for the electricity they have actually produced. The incentive is not to put up a windfarm, but to make sure that a windfarm generates electricity. By insisting on not getting this basic, elementary fact, the right-wingers prove that they have no interest in the issues and are arguing purely on ideological grounds.

Leadsom also seems to think that windfarms come in one variety - "240-foot wind turbines, 10 of them, 400 feet from your house." There will be a special reward for anybody who can identify a single UK windfarm which meets these criteria. Even allowing for the fact that Andrea Leadsom can't tell the difference between feet and metres, it's still wildly inaccurate and outrageously implausible.

Furthermore, Leadsom remarked that wind turbines have a "25-year life" and yet are "irreversible". That's just the sort of mind-twisting, self-contradictory nonsense that we've come to expect from VVASP. A bit like the claims that windfarms "don't work" and are "only built because of subsidies" (one or the other, guys - you can't have both). So, does Leadsom think that turbines die after twenty-five years? And then what - they just stay there for ever and ever? Is this woman quite mad?

The problem, of course, is that the dogmatic, irrational and utterly mendacious opposition to wind power is difficult to separate from the extremist stance of the climate change sceptics. It's a right-wing backlash that we're witnessing here. A colossal misunderstanding of the concept of "freedom". And a willingness to tell loud lies in order to make everything much worse for everybody.