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.

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