Tuesday, 22 November 2011


That old North-South Divide just keeps on widening, folks.

Inspite of local opposition, the Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has given the go-ahead for the 33-turbine Strathy North windfarm in Sutherland. It will generate enough electricity to power twice the number of homes in Inverness and pour some £3.5 million into the local community (yes, the community that objected!), in addition to creating about 100 jobs. It will also help towards achieving Scotland's goal of achieving 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.


Just don't tell the Duke of Edinburgh. The good ole boy has not abandoned his predilection for insulting Johnny Foreigner. One of the latest victims of his atrocious lack of politesse was Esbjorn Wilmar, who introduced himself to Phil at a reception in London. As soon as the Duke heard that Mr Wilmar works for Infinergy, building and operating wind turbines, the gnarly old codger let rip. Apparently, the Duke of Edinburgh thinks windfarms are "absolutely useless" and "completely reliant on subsidies". Oh, and they "never work" and they're a "disgrace".

Now, maybe the Duke has got it in for onshore windfarms. The Crown Estate doesn't seem to have too many qualms about offshore windfarms. And perhaps the old boy had been chatting to his eldest son and wanted to get a bit of social-conscience-environmental-stuff off his chest. Then again, maybe he just reads the Daily Heil.

But Philip's ludicrous outburst only highlights the growing gap between Scotland (where renewables are going from strength to strength) and England (where nimby nutters rule). As the Duke of Edinburgh, of all places, we might have expected a more enlightened attitude - one based on what windfarms are actually doing, as opposed to a complete ignorance of wind power reality - but that might be too much to hope for. Prince Phil excels in being casually offensive. It's what he does. Otherwise, he's "absolutely useless" and "completely reliant on subsidies".

The Duke's witless remarks sparked a very interesting investigation of windfarm facts on the Guardian website:


It's worth a look because it does delve into the FACTS behind the Prince's GUFF. Best of all, though, it includes a link to a very useful document. We'll put the link here for you:


It's a report published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy and it examines some of the "common concerns" about windfarms.

Now, before any passing nimby goes a bit berserk because the report is published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (as opposed to, say, the cynically misnamed Renewable Energy Foundation), let's be clear. The report is based on the latest peer-reviewed scientific and academic studies. It is probably the best resource for factual information - i.e., the sort that nimbies can't stand - about windfarms.

For example, it gives a good, clear and concise overview of the research into windfarms and property prices, thereby showing up the criminal irresponsibility of nimby groups who like to make out that windfarms are disastrous for the local housing market.

If only the Duke of Edinburgh had bothered to read something as informative as the Centre for Sustainable Energy's publication before shooting his mouth off. If only ...

Sadly, though, what passes for a "debate" about windpower in England is nothing of the sort. You get a few old farts talking idiotic claptrap. And then, too often drowned out by the wailing of the nimby fringe, there are the facts. Or "Scotland", if you prefer.

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