Sunday, 29 April 2012
Near Drymen, in West Stirlingshire, there are plans for a ten-turbine windfarm. Some of these will go on land that has been farmed by the same family for fifty years. Sadly, this just means that the family have come under fire from some neighbours who - how shall we put this? - haven't been there quite so long.
The farm in question has an area of land which is effectively unfarmable. That land can be put to good use by siting wind turbines on it. It's not as if wind turbines are a rare sight in central Scotland - the locals have had ample opportunity to see that they do not have a negative impact on lives (unless, of course, you decide that they are going to impact on your life, regardless of empirical reality). And yet, as letters to the local paper have shown, some of the selfish nitwits in the region reckon that visits to windfarms have only convinced them that their lives will "change completely" if the windfarm goes ahead. How hysterical can you get?
Yes, unbelievably, the nasty nimbies of West Stirlingshire are STILL capable of coming out with all the disproven, discredited and unrealistic hogwash about "noise nuisance" and "light flicker". You really would think that they live in a turbine-free area, the way they routinely spout the familiar nonsensical nimby lies. But they don't. There are plenty of working windfarms in the area. So we can't put the atrocious claptrap published by members of EVAG (Endrick Valley Action Group) down to ignorance. Intolerance, yes. The vaulting hypocrisy of the nimby, yes. But not ignorance.
Some locals have set out to make the lives of the farmer, his wife and their young children a misery. Mostly in the form of snide insinuations and vicious comments in the local press and on Facebook. The unpleasant nimbies of the area don't have the decency or the balls to take up their issues with the windfarm developers, Banks Renewables. No. Being typical nasty nimby types, they go straight for the family. The family that has been there for five decades, when many of the nimbies have only just turned up.
Incredibly, the local hoodlums have accused the farming family of having "no conscience" and of not caring for the environment.
We'll give that one a moment to sink in.
It's true. The recent arrivals who have taken arms against this perfectly legitimate clean energy development have accused the farmer and his family, on whose land some of the turbines will be sited, of having "no conscience". A different matter, no doubt, from being unprincipled and unethical enough to attack a genuinely local family for doing the right thing. And, worse maybe, these knuckleheads have claimed that the farmer does not care for the environment.
Anyone who knows anything about wind turbines know that they are an environment protection measure, as well as being an effective and efficient way of generating cheap electricity with the minimum of environmental harm. But the delusional fools of EVAG and its sister covens don't actually know the first thing about wind turbines. If they did, they wouldn't bore the readers of the local paper with wildly inaccurate and silly letters making all the usual stupid nimby claims (e.g., that the wind turbines would be "completely inefficient" - a sure sign that this is an out-and-out nimby writing, and not an intelligent member of the human race).
Once again, the nimby nutters are making the fundamental mistake. They are confusing the landscape with the environment. It's an easy mistake to make, if you are basically selfish and anti-social. The environment belongs to us all. The landscape, these people like to think, belongs only to those who can afford it.
In reality, the landscape is merely the visible form of the environment. And without renewables - windfarms very much included - then we can just kiss goodbye to the environment. And the superficial aspect of the environment, which we call the landscape.
The sad fact is that many of the thugs who oppose perfectly sensible and beneficial wind energy developments don't need to care very much about environmental issues, because they won't be around for much longer. They are happy to leave future generations to suffer the consequences of their insanely selfish lifestyles.
But here we have a farming family, very much a part of the local landscape, who have proven their commitment to the environment. And they have some land which cannot be farmed. It's a very good place to site some turbines, and they'll make some income from it. It's news, of course, to the morons who've just moved to the area that farmers need to make an income (not an easy thing, in this day and age). The kind of self-centred fool who moves to a rural area and then campaigns against everything genuinely rural will only tolerate farms as long as they are "picturesque". That is, as long as they serve the narrow-minded notion of the landscape that these cretins import with them when they move there.
Forget the simple fact that farming is an environmental matter, more than merely a matter of aesthetics for the retired and the terminally selfish. The fools of EVAG just don't want to admit this. It's all about them, them, them, and what they think the landscape ought to be: a picture postcard they can look at occasionally from their armchairs.
And for that reason, the sad, sad people of EVAG have set out to make the lives of this local farming family a misery.
So EVAG joins the ever-growing list of climate traitors, anti-social monsters, self-deluding propagandists and aggressive idiots - or nimbies, for short. They think it's their view that they are defending. But they're not. They are simply obstructing progress, opposing sustainability, ruining the lives of good people and threatening the future for our children and grandchildren.
Why? Because they moved into the area. And now no one else is allowed to do anything. Oh, and they just love quoting that barefaced liar Donald Trump. Which goes to show what low forms of amoeboid life they are.
Friday, 27 April 2012
MAP's campaign "literature" - to grant it a status it doesn't deserve - was reported to the independent Advertising Standards Authority. Eight complaints were made, of which seven were upheld.
Here's what the crazed fanatics of Montgomeryshire Against Pylons were stuffing down people's throats:
STOP, they shrieked. Pylons are coming.
Yep - it's like War of the Worlds. And why are those pylons "coming"? Because of clean, green wind energy. Welsh windfarms, in other words, which, with the tiresomely repetitive dishonesty we have come to expect from the anti-wind loons, MAP says are "inefficient".
Oh, yes. These extraterrestrial pylons will, if you believe the frothy-mouthed weirdos of MAP, lead to -
Destruction of our beautiful countryside, properties and homes forever (very VVASP, that level of hysteria - and how, exactly, are the pylons going to destroy our "properties and homes forever"???)
Real threat of increased childhood leukemia (we'll come back to this, but for now will note only that the MAP morons are using American spellcheck and don't know how we spell "leukaemia" here in the UK)
Property values crashing up to 40% (awkward grammar, this, and difficult to square with the claim that properties will be destroyed "forever": will that be after the 40% crash, or before?)
Oh, and there will also be "road alterations, closures and chaos for around six years" while the pylons and - the real issue at stake here - wind turbines are built.
You think that was all a bit mad? Just see where MAP went next:
Other communities in Britain have stopped pylons being built. We must act now to STOP the abomination the Welsh Assembly are dumping right on top of us.
Yes: it's as apocalyptic as that. How awful that nobody outside of Montgomeryshire has ever experienced the full horror of a few pylons ... oh, hang on. They have. We all have. We've been relying on them for decades. Everywhere.
Maybe the real problem isn't the pylons at all. Maybe it's the windfarms that these demented fools are really up in arms about.
Anyway, back to the ASA complaints. The ASA was asked to adjudicate on whether the following claims, printed in the ghastly "literature" of MAP, were permissible:
"Electricity prices could rise by 60% in 2012" (true - they could. We could also be eaten by giant rats in 2012. Or the sky could fall in)
"Property values crashing up to 40%" (nonsense)
"Pylons will devalue your home by 20-40% and possibly more" (is that on top of the 40% crash?)
"Power lines are linked with childhood leukemia [sic] and other cancers"
"Farmers will lose valuable fertile land - power lines are associated with lower milk yield and abortions in animals"
In addition to all this gibberish, the MAP maniacs had reproduced a disturbing image of a child, just to ram home their moronic claims about "leukemia", and had created an image of what the pylons might look like in situ, very close to people's homes, which was a bit naughty because the actual locations of the pylons had not yet been decided.
MAP were asked by the ASA to produce the evidence to support their wild, atrocious claims. The evidence produced by MAP to support the first claim ("Electricity prices could rise by 60% in 2012") made no mention of electricity prices rising by 60% in 2012 - and the articles presented by MAP had been published after the pylon-nimbies ("pymbies"?) made their ludicrous and groundless claim. Besides which, as we all know, the huge hike in energy bills last year was down to gas, not renewables. So MAP's claim was especially stupid and misleading.
The evidence provided by MAP to support their assertions about pylons impacting on house prices were either entirely anecdotal, "a man in the pub told me" type stuff, or a couple of editorials from the usual-suspect right-wing newspapers. So, no evidence at all, then.
The "evidence" for the claims about childhood leukaemias and abortions in cattle came from a conspiracy theory website and an American report which made no connection between power lines and these diseases. No actual evidence there, then, either.
To put it simply, MAP - in the oh-so familiar manner of the nasty anti-wind nimby brigade - had simply thrown together a bunch of hysterical claptrap with the sole intention of frightening and misleading people.
The similarities between MAP's mindlessly irresponsible behaviour and that of the typical anti-wind nimby group should be obvious to all. The usual brainless health scares, the usual unsubstantiated claims about house prices, the well-known gibberish about "our beautiful countryside" and some weird, unprecedented level of permanent destruction. Nothing new or even remotely imaginative there.
But where they really scraped the bottom of the barrel was in trying to put the frighteners onto local residents by forging a non-existent link between the proposed pylons and increased levels of childhood leukaemia, a disease which they couldn't even spell right.
That was sick. Sick and evil. Evil and wrong. The vicious, crazy, out-of-control cretins who published MAP's disgraceful "literature" should be locked up for what they tried to do. Indeed - for what they did. Just like the nimby fascists who set out to convince all and sundry that a windfarm in the neighbourhood will cause all manner of random diseases (bundled together under the fraudulent and discredited title of "Wind Turbine Syndrome"), these selfish cowards in Montgomeryshire were sinking about as low as a supposedly normal person can go. Their thinking was quite simple (as, indeed, was only fitting for such a campaign of kneejerk intolerance and wilful deception). If they couldn't spread fear and alarm by making up lies about house prices, they'd get you somewhere else - by going for your children.
No one - repeat: no one - who supports wind energy, renewables in general, and the transformation of our infrastructure which will see an energy revolution over the next few decades, is opposed to the idea of us all having a proper, free and open debate about green energy and sustainability. No one.
We all accept that pylons and wind turbines might not be everybody's cup of tea. If you find them "ugly", that's up to you. It's your opinion, and you're entitled to it.
But groups like MAP just keep on proving that there is no hope at all for a grown-up, intelligent and informed debate in this country about our energy future and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Just because they don't fancy the idea of a few pylons some distance from their homes, or they have the all-too-common middle-class brainblock over windfarms, they immediately hit the nuclear button and publish mounds of vile, outrageous, preposterous, unsubstantiated, misleading, scare-mongering lies. That's not grown-up. That's not intelligent. That's not informed. It's insane.
Forget about pylons and "leukemia". The real cancer in our society is the vicious, lying, threatening, bullying nimby. And, once again, the ASA has looked at the evidence and forbidden them from publishing their filthy lies again.
Will it stop, them? Will it heckers like. But at least we all now know just how depraved, how dishonest, how deranged the anti-everything minority can be.
Thursday, 26 April 2012
The nimby nutters have now been joined in their madness by some of our heritage agencies, who are proving to be as short-sighted and muddled in their thinking as the loopiest of anti-wind activists.
The National Trust and English Heritage have announced that they will mount a legal appeal against the planning inspector's decision in favour of a four-turbine windfarm near a Grade 1 listed garden at Lyveden New Bield.
Now, the proposed windfarm will be a kilometre away from the garden and will do no physical harm whatsoever to the National Trust property (a house which has remained unfinished since 1605). That is an important point to make. It will do no physical, material harm whatsoever to the house or garden. None at all.
But, as the National Trust has been telling members who have contacted the organisation to express their outrage at this retrograde and foolish step by the heritage charity, they "support all forms of renewable energy", but ...
Yep - it's that same old nimby refrain: "we are all in favour of renewables, but we think nuclear is better". Not cheaper, certainly, with various companies pulling out of the plans for the UK's new fleet of reactors on the grounds that the figures don't add up, and with the outgoing CEO of America's biggest nuclear power provider admitting that nuclear is not economically viable. And not greener, because nuclear relies on an awful lot of concrete and a fossil fuel for its power source. And not safer, because no windfarm has or will achieve what Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima Dai-ichi achieved. And not even more reliable - not when Britain's newest nuclear power station, Hinkley B, could spend upwards of seven months producing absolutely no electricity at all while the UK's growing fleet of wind turbines did exactly what they were designed to do. No. Not cheaper, greener, safer or more reliable. But better, because by and large the nimbies can't see them.
English Heritage certainly doesn't seem to have a problem with nuclear power stations. If they did, they might have registered an objection to EDF's plans to strip away 400 acres of top soil and vegetation from the proposed site of the Hinkley C power station in Somerset. English Heritage felt some qualms about the loss of archaeological sites - burial mounds, etc. - and a significant stretch of historic green lane at the Hinkley C site. Those losses are permanent. As English Heritage acknowledged, there would be "major impacts" as a consequence of EDF carrying out preparatory work on a site for which it didn't even have planning permission. Still, English Heritage did not object.
So English Heritage does not object to the permanent damage done to heritage sites in the case of a nuclear power station. It does, however, object to the perceived, short-term "damage" done by windfarms.
In other words, if you're a nuclear power operator who wants to tear up many acres of soil, and various archaeological sites, when you don't yet have planning permission for a nuclear power station, English Heritage probably won't stand in your way. But if you're a wind energy developer who has no intention whatsoever of tearing up many acres of soil or damaging any archaeological sites, English Heritage will fight you all the way.
The problem here is very simple. It's a problem that goes to the heart of the nimby madness which is plaguing this country of ours. It's the inability to understand the difference between the objective and the subjective.
English Heritage (like their nimby friends) clearly don't have a problem with material, physical damage to the environment. But they don't like perceived, imaginary damage to the "landscape".
Windfarms are an integral part of the solution to a pressing crisis. Climate change will alter the landscape. If we want to protect and perserve our environment, we need to do something. Wind energy is a very big part of the answer.
But there are some boodies who think that windfarms spoil the view. The view is not a material thing - it is a subjective response to an objective reality - and it is debatable whether windfarms really do damage the view. Many places, such as Ardrossan in Ayrshire, insist that their local windfarm has enhanced the landscape. So, even if you're a foul-minded, anti-social, mindless nimby you cannot actually say that a windfarm would spoil the view: you can only say that, in your opinion, the windfarm will affect the view in an adverse way for a certain period of time.
It is not about the view, though. The landscape isn't the view. It's more than that. It's the physical environment, which is under threat from something much more worrying and invasive than windfarms.
If you want to preserve the landscape, you have to protect the environment. English Heritage and the National Trust are making the same fundamental mistake as the selfish and stupid nimbies. They're confusing the environment with the view.
Neither the house nor the garden at Lyveden New Bield, remember, will be affected in any material way by the windfarm. Only the rather airy-fairy, define it how you will, subjective notion that is the view will be sort-of affected. Where a nuclear power company did decide to rape the earth at Hinkley Point, English Heritage let them get away with it. Evidently, English Heritage don't care about the real, physical environment. They're too busy worrying about the "environment" that doesn't really exist - the so-called "unspoilt" view.
That is insane. Utterly insane. Anyone who claims to be "all in favour of renewables" and then fights them on specious and fallacious grounds because they might "spoil" the view is, without doubt, barking mad.
It's not the view that matters. It's the earth, the rich and varied ecology of the physical environment. If you care about the view more than you do about that - as English Heritage clearly do - then you really have got your priorities completely muddled.
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
So perhaps it's better to take a global or holistic view of the insane, intransigent, argumentative, illogical, unreasonable, deeply divisive and dishonest nimby movement that is currently doing its utmost to wreck Britain's energy future and the planet as a whole.
You could say that there are two types of people in this world. One kind tends to keep an open mind, to seek out and weigh up the evidence, to make decisions based on careful consideration of the evidence and the overall need, and continually to monitor the basis of their decisions.
The other makes up its mind instantly on the basis of kneejerk prejudice, short-sighted self-interest and total ignorance of the facts. It then seeks out any "evidence" it can find which appears to support those prejudices and ruthlessly discounts, ignores or misrepresents any evidence which contradicts its blinkered stance.
(Don't let the nimbies fool you. If you've really examined the evidence, you won't go around telling stupid stories about windfarms that have already been shown to be untrue. Any nimby who claims to have been open-minded until they did some research into wind energy is lying, to themselves and to you. So tell them that.)
Into the first category fall those adults amongst us who are not particularly fond of wind turbines as such, but recognise that they are a valid and vital part of our urgent drive towards a low-carbon economy and a sustainable future. They are open minded enough to realise that it's not all about them. And yes, in an ideal world, maybe, there would be no need for wind turbines (or nuclear power stations, or coal-fired power stations, or gas pipelines, and so on, and so forth). But we need renewables, and maybe everybody has to make a sacrifice of sorts to help the UK in its economic and environmental progress. And here's the good news: these people tend to find out that having a windfarm nearby is actually a Jolly Good Thing.
The latter bunch are the monstrous misfits of the nimby fringe. They have never given a thought to wind energy until somebody mentioned the possibility of a windfarm or turbine somewhere in the vicinity. At which point, the shutters came down. These buffoons straightaway started looking for excuses to oppose a perfectly reasonable and indeed desirable development. They knew that just saying "I don't want it near me!" wasn't really going to cut it, so they went hell for leather in their desperate hunt for excuses. That's when they put together websites and placards and pamphlets which merely repeated the idiotic lies of other nimby groups. The stories they tell are shocking, startling ... and plain wrong.
The worst kind of nimby fraud is the one who tries to use science in an attempt to dismiss the efficacy of wind power. We saw it here in the Lenches and we're seeing it again now in the Borders, where the so-called Lauderdale Preservation Group has devoted an enormous amount of energy to trying to prove that wind turbines don't really do anything, only to blow it all by stating that the ones already operational in the Borders are doing a terrific job so they don't need any more. A real scientist would not fall into that sort of trap - presenting gibberish evidence which claims to prove one thing and then proving the very opposite as part of your next made-up argument against wind turbines. But, sadly, even people with a scientific background are capable of being betrayed by their own ideological prejudices and selfish pomposity into making idiots of themselves.
The bigger problem, however, is that there are some very dark forces in our world which are gladly providing these knuckleheads with the "evidence" to back up their demented, and wildly inaccurate, claims about wind power. Like the fools of Montgomeryshire Against Pylons (MAP), lately criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for indulging in disgraceful terror tactics and spreading false information in a lunatic attempt at converting public opinion, the nimbies who routinely and thoughtlessly oppose windfarms are rather too ready to soak up and spew out any stupid gobbet of misinformation they can get. And much of it comes from lobby groups like the disreputable Renewable Energy Foundation and Nigel Lawson's propagandist Global Warming Policy Foundation (both of them fronts for the fossil fuel industries).
"Lord" Lawson repeatedly tells lies in order to pull the wool over people's eyes. As a committed capitalist, he refuses to believe that the insanity of over-reliance on fossil fuels is causing any kind of problem at all. Now, if he wants to believe something as cretinous as that, well, that's up to him. But he goes further, taking large amounts of money from shady sources (which he refuses to name) and spreading false information in a deliberate attempt to confuse the public about the realities of climate change (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/21/lord-lawson-global-warming-errors). If Planet Earth had a single enemy, it would probably be Lawson. Karma will decide what to do with him, and it won't be pleasant.
However, every tin-pot right-wing nutcase who decides that anything "green" is clearly some sort of EU/Socialist/New World Order conspiracy is only too happy to quote Lawson's egregious climate lies, or the equally mendacious gobbledegook promoted by REF. Take the latest group of climate traitors to lumber over the horizon - a national anti-windfarm campaign group calling themselves NOW. Not only are all their facts wrong (nothing unusual there - try finding an anti-wind nimby who actually knows anything about wind power, even though they like to give the impression that they know a lot) but they have made it their ambition to oppose every wind development in the UK. That, folks, is a betrayal of everything - our children's future, our climate commitments, our energy security, our right to the least expensive form of electricity available, as well as government policy, global agreements and the longterm health of the planet we call home. People like Lawson might be massively deluded and evil enough to try and delude everybody else, but the motives behind NOW are completely insane. It's a campaign based entirely on an complete absence of reliable evidence and scientific fact: a kind of supernimby group dedicated to undermining the United Kingdom. They should be locked up for their own good, let alone the good of everybody and everything else.
It's not just the perversion of scientific evidence, the presentation of false evidence, the cherry-picking of data and the willingness to misinterpret that data along profoundly unscientific lines (a la Lawson, and various other right-wing thinktanks) that gives the nimbies comfort. There's also the bare-faced egotism of the practised liar who seems to believe that he has a right to bully and browbeat everybody in sight into doing what he says. Plenty of those thuggish sorts in the nimby movement, for all their risible posturing as the "victims" of something or other. But they have anointed a new king who, just for now, finds it convenient to support the anti-wind lunatics, although that probably won't last. His name is Donald Trump.
There have been a slew of opinion polls, the results of which have been published in the last few days, and all indicate that the clear majority of Britons (over two-thirds) actively support wind power, do not think that windfarms are a blot on the landscape and feel that subsidies for wind power are the right thing to do (by way of contrast, less than 10% of Britons are actively opposed to wind energy). Other polls have shown that tourists are singularly unfazed by windfarms (thus demolishing the brainless nimby argument that a windfarm would destroy local tourism). Add to that the fact that the RSPB has recently published the results of a long-running study which shows that wind turbines are not the "bird blenders" that nimby idiots want you to think they are, and you begin to wonder whether anything a nimby has ever said in his or her life ever turned out to be true.
People like Trump, though, don't care. For them, it's all bluster. It's a matter of smearing your opponents, hiring lawyers to do your dirty work, and lying in public. During Trump's farcically egotistical appearance before the Scottish Parliament today, the folically-challenged one actually had the effrontery to answer questions about whether he could provide any evidence to back up his far-fetched claims with the words, "I am the evidence." One of his henchmen then told the MSPs that, just because they were democratically elected, that did not give them the right to carry out their policies. So, a rather strange notion of what democracy is and what it means in the Trump camp.
Or, rather, a strange notion of what counts as the truth. But it doesn't matter. People like Lord Lawson can manufacture false evidence, based on a skewed idea of what science is. People like Trump don't bother with that. They just make their ridiculous statements and assume that, because they made them, everybody will agree with them. Okay, so opinion polls and other surveys have shown that windfarms do not adversely affect tourism. But Trump thinks he knows better. After all, he is "the evidence".
Between them, Lawson and Trump represent the twin fists of the nimby knuckledraggers. They both tell lies. One, however, twists science in order to create illusions. The other just swaggers and bullies people. Spend any length of time near an anti-wind nimby group and you'll come across both character types - the Pseudo-Scientist and the Ugly Thug. Chances are, those two will be the mainstays of your local nimby campaign. One, at least, tries to make it look like they've got some evidence on their side, even it is absolute rubbish with no basis in reality. The other doesn't care: you'll either do what they say or they'll make you suffer for it.
Can we really afford to let these delusional right-wing extremists, these greedy egotistical monsters, these practised liars and their hired hoodlums dictate our energy policy for years to come?
Or shall we believe in democracy and science?
Put it this way. It's a lot cleaner and healthier outside the mind of a nimby. They'd like to pretend that it's windfarms that keep people awake at night. But with corrupted consciences like theirs, it's a wonder that they can ever sleep at all.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
For those who don't know, Countryfile was, for many years, a Sunday morning programme dedicated to rural issues. A lot of what it looked at in years gone by involved farming. More recently, however, Countryfile decided that it wasn't all that interested in what people who live in rural areas actually do. The programme moved to a Sunday evening slot and turned into a sort of Blue Peter for adults. It is no longer (really) about rural issues and now tends to reflect what people who live in cities like to think that the countryside is: a vast playground with bits of heritage stuck in it.
Anyway, the first thing to say about Countryfile's piece about windfarms this week is that, by and large, it did the right thing. It stated, very very clearly, that Britain will be getting more onshore wind turbines. That is a certainty. Get used to it.
The UK government is committed to a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, measured against 1990 standards, by 2020, and the Climate Change Minister has even hinted that we should be pushing for a legally-binding pan-European target of 30% reductions. Excellent. Windfarms have already proven that they can make a major contribution both to clean energy generation and reducing carbon emissions. There are roundabout 13 gigawatts of wind energy capacity either consented or going through the planning system. Assuming all of those gigawatts are installed, that should raise the contribution from wind to between 15 and 20% of our total electricity usage. Combined with greater energy efficiency measures and other low-carbon technologies, that should mean that we hit our targets for 2020.
So Countryfile was right to make the point that more turbines are coming. Successful windfarms that are already operating might well be extended. Other parts of the country, which have so far managed to see off the pretend "menace" of wind power, will get turbines. They are part of our national future. And so they should be. We have allowed crazed nimbies and Tea Party-esque right-wing ideologues to hold Britain back in this amazing new market.
In Denmark, the wind industry provides 60 billion in Danish kroner exports per year, a figure which is set to rise dramatically over the next few years as Denmark aims to get 50% of its electricity from wind power by 2020. Across Europe as a whole, the wind power industry is expected to triple its contribution to the EU's gross domestic product over the next decade. It's already proving to be a "recession-proof" industry, having increased its contribution to EU GDP by 33% between 2007 and 2010 and creating 30% more jobs during that period (at a time when almost every other industry was shrinking). Current forecasts suggest that the European wind industry will contribute 94.5 billion euros to EU GDP by 2020, up from 32 billion euros in 2010.
So much good news ... and with a detailed report recently proving that windfarms are not the bird-mincing machines the nimbies want you to think they are, the news just keeps getting better. There is now evidence aplenty that windfarms do not cause health problems, drive down the value of your property or adversely affect business and tourism. The nimbies are running out of lies to tell.
It was good that Countryfile gave out the message that more windfarms are on their way. People need to get used to the idea - and they really should stop reading idiot papers like the Sunday Times, which just showed what a travesty it has become by running a wildly inaccurate headline over the weekend. Misquoting the Climate Change Secretary, the Sunday Crimes shrieked that there would be "no more windfarms", leading the government to describe the Murdoch rag's braindead headline as "spurious".
However, even while Countryfile was explaining that there will soon be more windfarms in Britain, and indulging in a little Blue Peter golly gosh stuff by going right up into a turbine hub, in the pursuit of journalistic "balance" it tried to give the impression that wind turbines are a little bit unpopular.
There was, for example, a strange section in which the journalist tried to measure how "angry" he felt when confronted with a close-up photo of a wind turbine. Show him a picture of a landscape with nothing at all in it and he went "Ah!" Show him a picture of a wind turbine taken from a rather odd angle and he went "Agh!" No real surprises there, because Countryfile these days is skewed towards the sort of person who thinks that the countryside should have nothing in it - except maybe a few mountain bikes - and that farming only clutters up the landscape. Not so much a working landscape (as it's always been), then, as an away-day waiting to happen.
The journalist also spoke to someone who had tried to stop a windfarm happening. This person had a very nice house - most nimbies do - and burst into tears at the least provocation. The fact is that she and her nimby friends had failed to stop the windfarm, and that is what upset her. Unfortunately, the journalist tried to lead her into saying that it was the turbines themselves which "churned her up inside", when in reality it was her failure to preserve the view from her garden like a sepia-tinted photo that churned her so. The journalist was getting dangerously close to a favourite nimby manoeuvre: look at those wind turbines! - don't you feel really churned up inside when you see them? - in fact, wouldn't you go so far as to say that they make you feel ill?? - suffering from headaches, sleeplessness, nausea, migraines (delete as appropriate) yet? - don't worry, we'll keep on at you till you are.
Yes, the middle-class homeowner was upset that she had failed to prevent a healthy, beneficial, much-needed and harmless development from going ahead. But the turbines weren't making her ill. It was very irresponsible of the BBC to try and give the impression that they were (and, fair do's to the woman, she avoided falling into their trap of making out that the turbines were affecting her health in any way).
Here's the problem with mixed messages: the government, and the Countryfile reporter, have made it perfectly clear - more windfarms are coming. But then, they go and cock it up by allowing some right-wing fruitloops to claim that there are to be "no more windfarms", or once we've built the ones already planned we'll stop, or that any attempts to move the UK towards a low-carbon, clean-tech economy will be "bad for business", or that windfarms make people angry (many who are familiar with wind turbines find them peaceful, inspiring and reassuring devices). All the insane claims vomitted out by right-wing pundits are music to the ears of the nasty nimbies who don't give a fig about the economy or the environment or Britain's future or the rest of the world.
The message must be clear. There are going to be more windfarms in the UK. And that's that. If you think that's a Bad Thing, then you're a nimby idiot or a climate sceptic or both and you really do need to put down those comics you're reading and start looking at the facts.
There is nothing to fear from the renewable future. And anyway, it's coming, like it or not. So it'd be much better if you stopped telling silly stories about it and trying to get other people to feel "ill" about it and just learned to live with it.
Better still, why not like it? That would be the sensible thing to do.
Saturday, 14 April 2012
It's not as if there aren't any windfarms in the area already. No, up in the Borders the protesters have moved onto Phase II of the nimby madness (much as "Save the Dales" are doing in Yorkshire). The first phase involves fighting aggressively and dishonestly against a wind energy development where there aren't any around for many miles. When that fails, the nimbies proceed to Phase II - stop any more windfarms happening.
They may not have the advantage of local ignorance - i.e., in places like the Lenches, where very few people had ever seen a windfarm, the evil nimbies of VVASP could spread all sorts of idiotic stories about wind power - but the Phase II nimbies are no less devious and misguided in their opposition. Their argument just shifts subtly from "we must never allow anything to mar our so-called unspoilt landscape" to "we mustn't allow any more of those things that we've already got to mar our still, apparently, unspoilt landscape".
One of the main problems up in the Borders region seems to be a body calling itself the Lauderdale Preservation Group. Now, preservation societies are all well and good - part of the checks and balances of a modern society. But they all too easily forget a very important fact: today's heritage was yesterday's "eyesore". Not many people liked Sir Christopher Wren's St Paul's Cathedral when it was first constructed. Guy de Maupassant was horrified and outraged by the Eiffel Tower when it first reared up above the unspoilt Parisian landscape.
And there's the problem with certain preservation groups. They are incapable of looking beyond their own narrow, selfish, short-term interests. They seem to believe that they are the last generation that will ever inhabit a particular area (which, for some unknown reason, they imagine is "unspoilt"), and so they appoint themselves guardians in perpetuity of a landscape which has changed many times in the past but must never change again!!! Why? Because these people now live in it - thereby proving that it is anything but unspoilt - and they are intolerant of progress, modern notions of sustainability and anything that will make them think of themselves as a bit less special.
The Lauderdale Preservation Group walks straight into the standard nimby trap. They are, they insist, "not opposed in principle to any renewable energy scheme, including wind power". Having established their forward-thinking green credentials, they then do their absolute best to rubbish wind power, especially where they might be able to see it.
Now, let's be honest. If we were to alter just one or two words of their argument (one repeated by self-serving and deluded nimbies up and down the country) it would run something like this:
We, the Nice People Living in Exclusive Rural Areas Committee, are all in favour of cultural diversity, including racial integration, where this is sympathetic to the local community and appropriate to the landscape and local environment. However, as recent articles published in the Mail and Telegraph newspapers prove, coloured people do not work, and in fact, integrating them into unspoilt places like ours actually does nothing at all to reach targets, imposed on us by Brussels, for racial tolerance and diversity. The organisations which seem determined to foist these ethnic eyesores on our communities have no interest whatsoever in cultural cohesion or ethnic diversity, but are motivated solely by profit and the gargantuan subsidies dished out for racial schemes which do nothing to protect our green and pleasant land from the menace of other people. Enough is enough.
Yep: the idiocy and dishonesty of the campaigns against windfarms are about as morally acceptable as that sort of thing. They sound just the same and stem from exactly the same blend of intolerance, bigotry and inflated self-centredness.
In the case of the Lauderdale Preservation Group, however, it's difficult to determine how many people are actually involved. As we have seen elsewhere - the Lenches being a case in point - occasionally an individual crops up who insists on repeatedly objecting to a reasonable proposal by acting as the "voice" of other groups, as many in fact as he can dream up. And, again as with the Lenches, this person intentionally uses their background as a scientist in order to twist the facts and mislead other people. Which is not what science is for. Such people are betraying their scientific training in order to force their own selfish obsessions down other people's throats.
Now, to reiterate: there are already windfarms established and successfully up-and-running in the Borders. And yet the landscape has contrived to remain "unspoilt", although a few more wind turbines anywhere nearby will naturally "destroy" it. All the usual false assumptions, utterly lacking in evidence, are cited (e.g. negative impact on tourism, yadda-yadda-yadda) and the familiar, and slightly racist, right-wing arguments are deployed in order to insist that we shouldn't bother doing anything about sustainability or low-carbon technologies because China is so big (it is also the global leader in wind energy, although the nimbies don't mention that).
But when you've got someone with a bit of a scientific background, and they're foolish enough to be "not opposed in principle" to renewables while steadfastly opposed to any visible form of renewable energy, they see their campaign as a marvellous opportunity to see how far they can turn scientific analysis into a great big bogus lie.
The individual who appears to be almost singlehandedly voicing the "opposition" of several preservation and conservation groups has made an extraordinary effort to try and prove that windfarms don't really work (and even if they do, what about China, eh? Eh??) He twists the data, not to mention his own thought-processes, into what he no doubt believes is a damning indictment of wind energy as something that can neither generate electricity nor reduce any of our carbon emissions (not to mention the Yellow Peril out there ... Did I mention, I'm not racist, but ...). And then he completely blows it.
Having put so much effort and energy into dishonestly "proving" that windfarms are a waste of time, the Borders nimbies let slip that "Electricity produced from wind farms in the Scottish Borders is enough to supply all of its households 9 times over, therefore this area exports 8 times as much electricity as its residents need."
Ooooh-kay ... so what they're saying is - "windfarms don't work - inefficient - don't work - load capacity - windfarms don't work - no CO2 reductions - China - windfarms don't work ... and the ones we've got here already produce 9 times as much as we need! They don't work, of course, but the main reason we don't want any more is because wind power is already generating enough electricity in the Borders to power all of our households 9 times over! So we've done our bit. It's somebody else's turn."
Does anyone see the insanity of their position? They don't want windfarms because they don't work, besides which the ones that are already there work so well that the region is "exporting" eight times as much wind-generated electricity as the area actually needs!
Which is evidently why the "unspoilt" landscape of the Borders, with its nine-times-more-efficient-than-we-need-them-to-be windfarms, must be forever pickled in aspic. Because one individual of advancing years is terrified that he might occasionally catch sight of a wind turbine or two. Which don't work. And they're already producing 9 times as much electricity as he and the rest of his region needs.
When you have an anti-windfarm campaign that's as mad as the one mounted by the Lauderdale Persecution Group and its several offshoots, it's hardly surprising that properties get vandalised (see photo above) - and all in the name of "preserving" an "unspoilt" landscape against the needs of the next generation and the heritage of the generation after that.
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Take their claim that the wind power industry is "solely motivated by profit". Well, oddly, that's how capitalism works. And unless we're going to re-nationalise our entire energy industry (any nimbies calling for that?) then we just have to accept that private companies operating in a liberalised market do have to consider the bottom line and keep shareholders happy.
Maybe the nutty nimbies imagine that nuclear power stations are staffed entirely by volunteers from various registered charities. Can anyone name any gas-fired power stations that are owned and run by co-operatives? There are plenty of windfarms and turbines that are (those filthy, community-minded, eco-friendly profit-hunters!!)
In fact, such is the nuclear industry's greed for profit that it is moving out of nuclear power! Moody's credit rating agency has already signalled that the two companies which abandoned plans to build two new nuclear power stations in Britain had done something "Credit Positive". The others, those still thinking about building new nuclear power stations in the UK, have been warned that such a commitment would have a negative impact on their credit ratings. Basically, they'd be taking on massive debts, and unless the tax-payer is prepared to underwrite those gargantuan debts, then they will lead to a credit rating downgrade. Shareholders won't like that. And so, those companies which are concerned about their profits are backing away from nuclear energy very quickly. They just don't care about providing energy for the people. They're solely motivated by profits
France has announced that it simply cannot afford to build any more reactors. They're just way too expensive. Governments can't underwrite the enormous costs of constructing, running and dismantling these power stations and disposing of the waste (indeed, the French government can't even decide how much dismantling power stations and safely storing the waste will cost, because nobody actually knows!) So France has put out tenders for some massive offshore wind arrays. Why would the French do that? Because windfarm developers are solely motivated by profit (unlike the nuclear industry, of course), or because somebody needs to provide energy to French consumers and the wind industry is the best-placed to do that quickly and at a fraction of the cost of nuclear?
Realistically, the insane nimby suggestion - repeated ad nauseam, like all their other nonsensical claims - that the wind industry is only driven by the desire for profit is remarkably bonkers. It takes no account of the simple fact that that's how companies work, you dimwits! It also demonstrates a blank refusal to engage with reality. Nuclear (massively subsidised) is just too expensive. And dangerous. And not as reliable as people like to think it is. And it'll be years yet before any new nuclear power station gets up and running - assuming that their developers decide to accept the credit downgrade that comes from gambling colossal amounts on money on something that is increasingly detested by people all around the world and can only survive if guaranteed vast amounts of government subsidy.
Gas is getting more expensive. Some nimbies point to shale gas and fracking as the Great White Hope for the future. Sure, why not - if you're really into earthquakes and tapwater that catches fire. Realistically, if we haven't learnt our lesson yet about extracting and burning fossil fuels, then there's no hope at all for us, end of.
Anyone care to suggest that shale gas extraction or fracking doesn't "change the landscape forever" or "impact adversely on our unique, unspoilt, historic landscape"? Or that the firms engaged in these harmful activities aren't "solely motivated by profit"?
No, as usual the lunatics of the anti-wind fringe reserve all their ludicrous statements, woefully demented myths and irrational bile for the cheap, clean, green option - the one that harnesses a resource that is abundant, free and inexhaustible. Wind. Because windfarm operators are the only people in the entire world who are solely motivated by profit. Oh, and for some strange, inexplicable reason, helping us to keep the lights on.
Well, here's what the major wind energy companies in the UK have all undertaken to do for us. They have signed up to a "Wind Charter", which promises to:-
+ ensure that constant investment in wind energy (currently £5bn comes into the UK economy from the wind industry each year) leads to sufficient capacity to power more than 17 million homes by 2020
+ to grow the number of jobs and specialist training courses in order to establish an industry employing up to 90,000 people by 2020 (up from 12,000 at present)
+ to provide clean, safe and affordable green energy for today's and for future generations and to continue to drive down costs (which have already more than halved over the past twenty years)
The government has welcomed this Wind Charter. It's what the country needs, and - whoops, where are the mentions of subsidies? All wind power companies are subsidy-grasping profit hounds!! Except that there aren't any subsidies involved. Just two pence a day on the average energy bill. Not bad, given that the reduction in carbon emissions already achieved by wind power (7 million tonnes per year) is the equivalent of taking 1,750,000 cars off the road.
Here's the Wind Charter: http://www.renewableuk.com/charter/
Of course, you're perfectly free to pooh-pooh all this effort by the wind industry to provide you with safe and affordable green energy, cheaper than the alternatives, and a cleaner environment as well. You can make out that the wind industry is unique in its greedy soaking up of non-existent "subsidies" and its eagerness for profit, which clearly has no place in a free market economy.
Or you could wake up, pull your head out of your backside and start being reasonable, sensible and honest.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Currently, the UK is signed up to a legally-binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions by 20% against 1990 levels by the end of this decade. Greg Barker expects the UK "comfortably to exceed" its current 20% target, although much of this has to do with the enlightened and progressive approach taken by the Scottish Parliament, which is aiming to get 100% of Scotland's electricity from renewables by 2020. If Scotland were to vote "Yes" to independence in 2014, it could be that England and Wales would need to act pretty fast to ensure that the government meets its 2020 target.
Even so, the UK is backing calls from France and Germany for the European Union to impose a target of 30% emissions reductions by 2020. Much of Europe is quite keen on this tougher target, with the only real opposition coming from Poland. Poland relies heavily on fossil fuels - coal in particular - for its energy (and there is a direct link between Poland's coal-fired power stations and Lord Lawson's attempts to pretend that there is no climate change problem via his shady "Global Warming Policy Foundation"). But if Poland can be brought into line, then by the end of this year the EU-wide target for reductions of carbon emissions by 2020 could be 30% - which would be a big step forwards.
The question then becomes, how is the UK planning on cutting its emissions by so much?
The likelihood of new nuclear power stations coming online by 2020 is minimal. Besides which, non-renewable nuclear is very much the high-risk (and phenomenally expensive) low-carbon source. Gas is already becoming extremely expensive - one of the reasons why Denmark is altering its economy and infrastructure to achieve 50% of its energy from renewables by 2020, a move which has support across the political spectrum - and recent announcements suggest that gas is about to get a whole lot more expensive for the consumer.
Which just leaves renewables. Not only are some renewables - like onshore wind - pretty cheap, but there is enormous flexibility in the renewables approach. A combination of community wind power and solar schemes, individual turbines for farms and small businesses, solar farms, utility-scale windfarms (onshore and off), and the introduction of a smart grid would add up to a major change in the way the UK generates much, if not all, of its electricity. Hydroelectric schemes will also have much to offer (although falling river levels could be a problem), and wave and tidal schemes could prove to be a major boon, while energy efficiency measures will play a huge part in reducing emissions. The real trick is likely to be a broad mix of renewables, including small-scale private and community developments (which account for most of Germany's world-class renewables industry) and major developments, including the large-scale offshore windfarms planned for the Bristol Channel and the south coast.
The problem, of course, is the British pestilence that is nimbyism. Sooner or later, someone or other objects to more-or-less anything. Where wind energy is concerned, the objection is almost invariably one of alleged loss of "visual amenity" - indeed, if the nimbies were honest (which few of them are) they would admit that this is the only objection to wind turbines, and that all the other false claims about wind power are a desperate exercise in clutching at straws.
The "visual amenity" issue is not a given. Many people really do like wind turbines, while many others are simply in touch with reality and recognise the need for them. Which leaves just a hardcore of blinkered refuseniks willing to tell any lie and to bully anyone they think they can get away with bullying in order to stop a valid, valuable and beneficial windfarm development in its tracks because they think it might spoil "their" view.
These people are not only the enemies of science and democracy, the national economic and environmental interest, their own communities and the planet - they will soon be the enemies of the British government, which has woken up to the economic potential of clean technology. Ironic, really, seeing as most nimbies are likely to have voted for the right-of-centre politicians who are now pursuing tougher targets on emissions reduction. But if the UK and its allies do manage to get the tougher 30% target adopted by the EU, then the nimby fools will be at odds with the very people they hoped would "save" them from a modest requirement to do their bit.
This will also mean that there is an increasing need to press ahead with sensibly-sited renewable developments regardless of the stupid actions and ridiculous blather of the local nimbies. But this needn't bother us. After all, the nimbies have a decidedly conditional notion of democracy, and those who play by their undemocratic rules should face the consequences. Furthermore, the claim that a view which you do not own is more important that the interests of the economy and the environment, of the community, the nation and future generations, deserves to be pointedly disregarded. It is the sort of thing that shows the obsessively self-centred nature of the majority of nimbies (which in turn accounts for the awful things they say and do), and there is no place for such excessive levels of selfishness, ignorance and intolerance in a healthy society.
Let's hope that the UK does get its way, and the EU adopts a more stringent legally-binding target for cardon reductions. And let's hope that the country then turns against the nimby menace and all those self-important anti-wind loonies with their incessant lies. It's vital that we as a nation get to grips with the 21st century and move bravely towards a sustainable future. Those who remain determined to stand in the way of this because it might impact on their view must be recognised as the self-serving traitors and fools that they are.
Monday, 9 April 2012
We also know that only an absolute idiot who has made no attempt whatsoever to check the facts would make such claims. In 2010, the British government subsidised gas, oil and coal prices to the tune of £3.63bn, according to figures from the OECD. Over that same period, all wind energy in the UK (that's onshore and offshore combined) received £0.7bn in top-up fees, referred to in the industry as ROCs (Renewable Obligation Certificates), which are paid by the energy utilities, not the tax-payer, and so are quite categorically not "government subsidies", no matter how hard the nimbies try to bend the truth.
Last year, the steeply-rising wholesale price of gas added approximately £120 to the average annual energy bill. Contributions to creating a level playing field for wind power added less than £4.70. Gas receives government subsidies. Wind power does not, and even the ROCs are being reduced as the costs of wind power fall.
So, while increasing gas prices accounted for 10% of the average annual bill for energy last year, wind power accounted for 0.05%.
And some wretched loonies are trying to tell you that wind is the cause of fuel poverty???
It's likely to get worse. As this article indicates, the gas companies are warning of increases of up to 27% to the average bill over the next few years:
The implications of this are startling. Add to that the fact that two nuclear power stations currently being built in Finland and France are years behind schedule and massively over-budget, and the picture doesn't look too good, does it? Even if the government is able to get its new nuclear programme underway, it's extremely unlikely that any new power stations will be up and running before 2020. Old nuclear power stations are already being decommissioned (for which we, the tax-payer, are paying - more than half of the DECC's annual budget is going on winding down these expensive, hazardous monoliths), leaving us with few real options. Carbon Capture and Storage has yet to prove that it actually works, making any increase in coal-fired power generation a major problem vis-a-vis our legally-binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions. And if we stick with gas ... well, apart from blowing up in the North Sea, costing a bomb on the international markets, being genuinely subsidised already and now requiring costly infrastructure improvements, that just means energy bills going through the roof for the foreseeable.
Renewables, meanwhile, and wind power especially, already out-perform conventional sources on price (no, don't start yelping about "subsidies" for wind, because they don't exist; try, once and for all, to get this into your thick nimby skulls: fossil fuels are subsidised by the tax-payer - windfarms are not), with the exception of gas, but wind power is fully expected to beat gas on price within the next few years. The way things are going, wind will in fact be cheaper than gas in a matter of months.
So, what is actually causing the rise in energy bills and the consequent problems of fuel poverty? Only a deluded numbskull would say that it's wind power. So that, of course, is what the nimbies claim. They point to Denmark as an example of how "expensive" wind power is, paying no attention at all to the fact that Denmark levies heavy taxes on energy; actually producing electricity in Denmark costs 25% less than it does in the UK, because so much of it is wind energy, which is really rather cheap.
Just remember: those among you who are campaigning, fraudulently and foolishly, against windfarms are expecting YOU to foot the ever-increasing bills for more expensive gas and (if it ever gets built) new nuclear.
It is your manic nimby neighbours who are driving you into fuel poverty with their blinkered opposition to a safe, sensible, cheap, clean and efficient solution to the problem.
The whopping increases in your household outgoings for energy use are the price they want you pay for their short-sighted selfishness.
Don't let them get away with it. They can't fool all of the people all of the time. And it's your household budget that they're squandering.
When we're all paying even more for our (subsidised) gas-fired power, you'll be able to thank them, won't you, for making it all so much more expensive for us all. Maybe you even believed them when they made their stupid claims about "massive government subsidies" for wind power. So you can thank yourself, too, for the extra amounts we'll all have to pay because you didn't tell the nimby liars where they could stick their lies.
Saturday, 7 April 2012
The "Stop Dorcas Lane Turbines" website constitutes a plethora of old-fashioned and outdated nimby myths. It could have been designed by a carbon-copy nimby group about five years ago. Things have moved on since then - though not necessarily in Nimbyland - and few if any of the foolish claims on the SDLT website stand up to serious scrutiny.
So - a campaign based on lies and misinformation. Nothing new there. But, as we've found elsewhere, campaigns as egregiously misinformed as theirs tend to produce genuine maniacs. Once you've made up your mind to go with the lies, you're pretty much obliged to go berserk at the first sign of any real facts, genuine evidence or someone who supports wind energy.
The ringleaders of the "Stop Dorcas Lane Turbines" reacted to recent criticism of their moribund claims and anti-social activities by posing as the victims. There was talk of legal action, a swift lurch towards the moral high ground and a lot of pretending to be hurt. That, however, was a front: a fairly standard nimby reaction to anyone who points out what they've really been up to.
Evidence has since come to light which tears the respectable mask from the faces of the Dorcas Lane nimbies, making legal action an extremely dangerous move on their part.
Pro-wind campaigners went to Leighton Buzzard recently to let local people know a little bit more about windfarms - what they really are, for example, as opposed to the nonsensical garbage they'd been showered with by SDLT. The campaigners repeatedly came in for a great deal of verbal abuse from one individual in particular.
Shortly after the visit to Leighton Buzzard, an anonymous email was sent to one of the pro-wind campaigners. Showing the lack of imagination we've come to expect from nimby nutters, the sender of the email identified himself as "Mr Joe Bloggs" and gave the name of the organisation he worked for as "Against Hipocrisy" (address: "Anywhere that the hypocrite *** is spouting his lies").
Having shown that he isn't entirely sure how to spell hypocrisy, he then went on to show that he doesn't really know what it means. He attacked the pro-wind campaigner as a "hypocrite and a liar" - an odd accusation, given that the pro-wind campaigner was not pretending to be anything other than he is, whereas the nimby nutters of Aylesbury Vale like to pretend that they're concerned about the environment (among other things), when they don't give a fig. To them, the environment is the view from somewhere or other. Any steps to protect the environment against the dire impacts of climate change must under no circumstances impinge on this "unspoilt" view of theirs. So in fact, they don't care about the environment one bit.
In common with other cretins involved in the atrocious blight of British nimbyism, "Mr Joe Bloggs" doesn't care about the environment either. He shows this by putting quotation marks around the word "Green" (a Ramsbotham trick, too).
"Mr Joe Bloggs" considers the pro-wind campaigners "misinformed", thereby overlooking the simple fact that the nimby claims given out on the "Stop Dorcas Lane Turbines" website are so woefully inaccurate, unsubstantiated, misleading and wrong. But nimbies inhabit a parallel universe, where their insane lies are "FACTS" and real information is "hypocrisy" and "lies".
Here's an example of what the atrocious lies told by nimby groups like SDLT lead to. We quote verbatim from the anonymous email:
"How misinformed you are, as you aid these energy companies to get support for their wind turbine planning application projects through local councils, wind turbine projects which aren't in any way 'Green', and were it not for the huge government subsidies no company would ever entertain building half the ones proposed.
"They must be pissing themselves laughing at how they've managed to get an idiot like you onside, even if you are nothing but a light-weight, and I say it again, hypocrite.
"I bet the directors never invite you to stay at their palatial mansions, purchased on money grabbed from the public purse via the massive government subsidies they get, or how they've ripped off everyone by over-charging and causing fuel poverty for millions."
Now, the egotists who set up SDLT will no doubt try to distance themself from this delirious email, but they must take responsibility for it. Did they not promote the stupid myth about "huge government subsidies" and "massive government subsidies", which has now become the main plank of the nimby argument, even though, like all their other anti-windfarm arguments, it's complete bollocks. Did anyone at SDLT attempt to put psychotics like "Mr Joe Bloggs" straight on the issue of government "subsidies" for wind power? Did they ever acknowledge the fact that it is fossil fuels that are actually subsidised by the government, and the steep rise in global gas prices is what really sent domestic energy bills skyrocketing? Did they do anything to disabuse rampagaing lunatics like Anonymous of Aylesbury Vale of their insane, paranoid theories? We doubt it.
So SDLT must accept that its witless campaign of misleading propaganda is the cause of the verbal abuse and hate-email received by supporters of wind energy.
"Self-styled eco-activist, my arse, you are nothing but a jumped-up crustie and liar who has sold his soul to the big energy companies", sputtered Mr Joe Bloggs.
At least the eco-activist had a soul in the first place. Unlike the demented piece of human offal who sent the anonymous email.
"It's high time you were exposed as the hypocrite, fraud and liar you really are." Good luck with that, Mr Nasty of Leighton Buzzard. You who've listened to so much of SDLT's crap that you know longer have the merest glimmer of an idea of what counts as truth.
There's more - lots more - in that disgusting email. It's sadly typical of the ever-more apocalyptic lunacy of the nimby fringe. "Mr Joe Bloggs" goes on a bit more about his mythical "government subsidies" (the nimby sickos really are going to have to explain what these "government subsidies" are before too long - even though SDLT has relied on the most outdated and discredited of nimby claims, the silliness over the alleged "subsidies" for wind power is one of the more modern myths they've clearly been using to work up the loonies of Aylesbury Vale, and it's about time they explained what these so-called "subsidies" actually are and then shut up about them).
Anyway, tired old nimby nonsense continued to be woven through the message of hate (and insanity) from the self-styled "evolvingcaveman" of Dorcas Lane. Wind turbines "litter the landscape and our beautiful countryside" - yep: NIMBY CLICHE ALERT! - but the SDLT-inspired "Mr Joe Bloggs" seems confident that the government will "stop its subsidies" (it'll have to start them first) and then all the turbines will be abandoned "as they aren't commercially viable anymore" - proving that "Mr Joe Bloggs" is not conversant with the economics of wind power, the UK's commitment to cutting carbon emissions or what's going on in other countries. Oh, we stand corrected: "Mr Joe Bloggs" has heard about some turbines in America "which now litter their landscape rotting, thousands of them."
Last September, renewables overtook nuclear in the United States. Even senior figures in the American nuclear industry admit that nuclear isn't economically viable. Texas, the "oil" state, has now become the wind state (far more operational wind turbines in Texas than there are in the UK), and five American states get more than 10% of their electricity from wind power. "Mr Joe Bloggs" has been reading the violently dishonest nimby literature again and steering clear of real news.
Anyway, Bloggs insists that he will "make everyone howl with laughter" when Britain fails to meet its legally-binding commitments, is overtaken by emerging economies currently investing heavily in wind energy, and has to pay even more for its imported energy that it already does. The mindless Mr Bloggs will consider that a great victory: "Isn't life funny the way things turn around?"
So, "Stop Dorcas Lane Turbines" - what have you got to say about that email? The one your lies and false information are responsible for. The one which shows the ugly face that anti-windfarm campaigners try to keep hidden from the wider public, but which they reveal at the first hint of an opposing viewpoint.
Aren't you pleased that a visitor to your especially "beautiful" area received such hateful, vicious abuse fuelled by your fanatical campaign of misinformation?
You nimbies are all the same: liars and thugs. How dare you drone on about this "beautiful" country of ours when you show such contempt for others!
Thursday, 5 April 2012
That'll be good. Brazil, one of the fast-growing BRIC ecomomies, is already making great leaps forward with wind power. Britain, meanwhile, held the lead at an early stage, then fell back a bit, but is now doing rather well with offshore wind. So the agreement is likely to be good for the economies of both countries, not to mention the wider environment.
Oh, but all this marvellous and much-needed progress will be knocked on the head if one wild-eyed and grossly-misinformed supernimby has his way.
Anyone who regularly visits green and renewable websites in order to keep up with developments in sustainability will probably have come across David Ramsbotham. Having fought a single wind turbine in Norfolk (yes: just one!), Ramsbotham has decided that it is his mission to get a petition signed by as many boobies and sheeple as he can, with the aim of forcing a debate in Parliament on the issue.
He is the master of the cut-and-paste job. Clearly, he hasn't been getting enough support for his bonkers e-petition from those who are actually interested in green energy, so he's now targeting parish councils - which, as we know, can be extremely unrepresentative of their local areas. So parish councillors have lately been treated to the selfsame message of idiocy as the green website browsers have become all-too familiar with.
Let's see how many lies, myths and false beliefs Mr Ramsbotham has managed to cram into his witless emails, shall we?
First of all, he plays the contemporary nimby gambit: "Are you disillusioned by rising energy prices"? Well, if you care to check out our previous post (below), or any reliable source on the current household costs of energy, you'll know that if you are disillusioned about rising energy prices, your best bet is to back renewables - onshore wind power especially. It's the cheapest and least subsidised form of energy on the market, as well as being one of the cleanest.
But if you happen to be as deluded - or Delingpoled - as Ramsbotham is, you'll try to pretend otherwise. You will also insist on putting the word "green" in quotation marks. Clearly, Mr Ramsbotham doesn't believe in "green". To him, it's some sort of madcap conspiracy involving those usual suspects so loathed by the fanatical right-wing: the Government, the EU, international corporations ... Of course, if you're that mad, you will gladly imagine that "wind energy is a big scam". Such a "big scam" that it is currently providing five US states with more than 10% of their electricity (in fact, if Texas was a country, it would rank sixth in the world for wind energy production).
Ramsbotham, of course, only reads what he chooses to believe in. And he believes some very weird things, for which he has no actual evidence. He believes, for example, that the "British public want to make the Government aware of their feelings and objections to these monstrosities which are beginning to blight our green and pleasant land" - aaaarrrrrggghhhh!!! He said it! The nimbies' favourite cliche!! What a dolt!! - and he believes that "our elected representatives are completely out of touch with the electorate on this issue."
Now, this all depends on what you mean by "the electorate". If you mean Ramsbotham, Il Duce of Nimby, then maybe he's right. Even you mean the people who actually live in the British Isles, then he's way off. As we know, opinion polls have, over a number of years, consistently shown that the vast majority of Britons support wind power.
Ramsbotham has got his head rammed right up his bottom on this one. He's got nimby fever big time, and so he assumes that, because he's so out of touch with reality, "the British public" and "the electorate" must be behind him. Even though they're not. Not by a long chalk.
He clearly hasn't done any research at all or made the slightest effort to keep up with developments (which is odd, given his propensity for trolling green business and sustainability websites - evidently, he doesn't read the articles he comments on with his cut-and-paste nonsense). For that reason, he actually thinks that wind farms are "uneconomical and inefficient". This is one of those nimby myths that just never goes away. He also, natch, insists that they are "highly subsidised by the taxpayer". When in reality, they're not subsidised by the taxpayer at all.
Still, all this - in the weird and whacky world of Ramsbotham - is just part of the "green" dream. A statement which throws up all sorts of existential issues. Because it's Ramsbotham who is dreaming - dreaming that he is the voice of the Great British public (the majority of whom disagree with him), that "wind energy is a big scam" (which is sheer bullshit), that "wind turbines are highly subsidised by the taxpayer" (when they're not, neither highly nor lowly) ... the list of his delusions just goes on. In this case, the "electorate" seems to be fairly wide awake. Only Ramsbotham is tossing and turning while the voices in the radiator tell him strange stories.
He also feels that there is some sort of "social injustice" at work here. People, he says, are worried about "noise, health and safety problems, damage to bats, birds and other wildlife, the visual intrusion on a historic landscape, the devaluation of their properties and their human rights". Well yes, of course some people are worried about some or all of those things - BECAUSE IDIOTS LIKE EL RAMSBOTHAM KEEP GOING ON ABOUT THESE ILLUSORY, FATUOUS AND NON-EXISTENT "PROBLEMS"!!!!! Ramsbotham's thinking is about as circular as you can get! It's goes something like:
Myself and a few other woefully misinformed fanatics told some people that windfarms are noisy, that they harm your health, they blow up bats and "other wildlife", intrude visually on "historic landscapes" [not sure what they are] and devalue property prices - EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T! And when the people heard these stupid lies, they got worried!! And because those people are worried (because me and my nimby mates lied our heads off to them), SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!!
(Note: Ramsbotham got started on his utterly misguided campaign because of a single turbine mooted for his "beautiful, unspoilt, and historical landscape". We're used to nimby claims that their local landscape has somehow managed to avoid thousands of years of human activity and is completely untroubled by roads, hedges, ditches, drains, pylons, houses, barns, fields, or anything else - but this "historical" nonsense is relatively new to us, and seems to be the latest development in deluded nimby thinking.)
He is very unhappy about the fact that residents are not offered "compensation" for all these made-up problems the nimbies lied to them about "if" - repeat IF - "these fears materialise". In other words, the problems alluded to by Mr Ramsbotham don't actually exist, but if by some strange quirk of fate it turns out that they DO exist, where's the offer of compensation then, eh? Eh? If any of the claims the nimbies have been worrying their neighbours with actually turn out to be true at some point in the future, what then? Eh? EH???
We'll not tire you with any more of his gormless dribbling. Rather, we'll just celebrate the fact that Ramsbotham and the real world seldom come into contact with each other, and out there in the real world, renewables - and wind energy in particular - are proving their worth over and over again. The "green" dream, as Ramsbotham likes to put it, is just about the only thing that stands between us and complete catastrophe, and thankfully windfarms are demonstrating how much they can contribute to that "dream", benefitting their communities, the nation and the planet. Unlike the conventional sources of energy, they do not cost the earth (or receive taxpayer subsidies).
Wake up, Mr Ramsbotham. And prepare yourself for a shock when you do. While you were sleeping, you accidentally tried to plunge Britain back into the Dark Ages and destroy the planet.
Must have been quite a dream!
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
If nothing else, that would mean that the delirious "Stop Subsidised Windfarms Around Tamworth" campaign would have to change its exceptionally silly name.
Given the nimbies' love of violent language and imagery, you'd have thought they'd plump for "SWAT". But no. Taking a giant leap into the realms of idiocy, the fools of SSWAT went a bit more sibilant than that. Because they're against "Subsidised Windfarms". Presumably, non-subsidised windfarms are okay. It's just the "subsidised" variety that they can't stomach.
Incidentally, "Stop Subsidised Windfarms Around Tamworth" are currently up in arms over a planning application for a 60-metre anenometer (wind-speed-measuring) mast. According to the woeful literature they've been thrusting through doors in the area, this very slim mast will be positioned in a "rural area of exceptional natural beauty" (aren't they all?). The mast is an "industrial structure" - typical nimby-speak, that - the appearance of which "will have a signficant impact on this outstanding and unspoilt countryside". Yeah, we get the picture: every nimby likes to think that they live in midst of the virgin forest.
"On a clear day", state the Tamworth nimbies, "the Peak District can be seen in the distance." This is probably one of the main reasons why anyone would want to live in the area: so that, every now and then, they might be able to catch a glimpse of somewhere that's even more "outstanding and unspoilt".
But here's the thing. Anyone familiar with anenometer masts knows that, unless you know what you're looking for, they can be pretty hard to spot. "Industrial" is only an effective description if you accept that a needle is "industrial". The impact of such a mast on the landscape is about the same as that of a tall needle standing upright. Very difficult to see at the best of times. The view of the distant Peak District (only on a "clear day") will not be affected in the slightest. The country-dwellers of the Tamworth area will still be able to see somewhere that's even more extraordinary than their own mind-blowingly attractive landscape. Chances are, they won't even notice the mast.
Of course, all this self-serving gibberish about the meterological mast is a cover. The nimby fools of SSWAT think that, if they can stop the mast, they can stop any future attempts at installing a windfarm. Which will still not obliterate the view of the faraway Land of Narnia. But that's immaterial because any such windfarm (unlike the met mast) will be "subsidised".
Okay, so let's play the SSWAT idiots at their own demented game. Let's consider the implications of removing all energy subsidies.
First of all, there aren't any direct government subsidies for windfarms. The Renewable Obligation Certificates, which utility companies pay to create a level-playing field for the massively under-subsidised renewables industry, are not paid for out of our taxes. They come out of the profits of the utility companies, which means they are added onto energy bills. Last year, the ROC payments to wind power added less than five pounds to the average household annual energy bill.
Meanwhile, the rising price of gas in the international markets added £120 to the average household bill. But gas already gets five times as much subsidy - from the government - than wind does, mostly in the form of VAT reductions.
So, if we removed the genuine subsidies for gas - along with the rather imaginary subsidies for wind - then the average consumer would have paid £4.68 less last year for wind energy top-ups (thereby saving themselves 9p per week), but would have had to pay more than £20 extra to cover the increased costs of gas. Not much of a saving, is it?
And what about nuclear? Forbes magazine recently revealed John Rowe's thoughts about new nuclear. As far as he's concerned, nuclear is no longer an economically viable power source in the United States. So who is this raging green called John Rowe? Well, a few days ago he retired as CEO of Exelon, America's largest producer of nuclear power.
If even the industry insiders recognise that nuclear power is no longer economically viable, what would it be like without the massive government subsidies the industry has traditionally relied on? Two German companies have recently withdrawn from the UK's new nuclear programme because - well, the numbers just don't add up.
The coalition government in the UK is eager to pretend it can get its new nuclear power stations without any public subsidies. Clearly, that's not so certain, if major companies are backing out of the deal because there's no money in it. And there will be government subsidies for nuclear: at least £50 million a year for each power station (part of the deal for low-carbon sources), plus free connection to the grid (a tax-payer subsidy for nuclear which is denied to the wind industry) and, of course, the costs of any accidental nuclear disaster will be borne by the tax-payer. Even with all that government largesse, though, nuclear is still a non-starter in economic terms, unless it is massively subsidised by the tax-payer. And it is a massive subsidy, as the current budget overruns and extensive delays in building new nuclear power stations prove.
Being realistic, the tax-payer gets a remarkably good deal out of wind, because he or she doesn't pay a penny towards them in tax. And even as energy consumers, we get an extraordinarily good deal, because the costs of wind generated energy are coming down, leading to a decrease in the ROC payments, while the costs of everything else (nuclear, gas, CCS) go through the roof. Remove the subsidies for ALL forms of electricity generation, and nuclear becomes no longer available, gas gets even more cripplingly expensive, CCS doesn't even exist yet, and renewables continue to go down in cost.
You have got to be a TOTAL LOONY to pretend that windfarms are "subsidised", or that they are "subsidised" any more than any of the conventional energy sources.
In fact, the problem of "subsidies" only exists because of the policy of privatisation which, it's a fair bet, most nimbies actually voted for back in the Wild West days of Maggie Thatcher.
Nimbies grouse about "foreign-owned" energy companies building windfarms on our "green and pleasant land" (yep, especially if they read the Telegraph they really are apt to use that godawful cliche). But who sold our electricity industry to the foreign companies in the first place? Who decided that electricity companies should be driven by the pursuit of profit? Who made sure that we'd all end up paying more than we should be for our electricity (nothing whatsoever to do with the "costs" of renewables)?
Privatisation is the reason why windfarm operators have received "constraint payments" when their turbines have been producing large amounts of electricity but, by bringing a nuclear power station back online, the grid found itself with a surge and had to ask the windfarm operators to power down their turbines for a while (it's a lot easier to do that than to faff about with nuclear, which is a bit of a dinosaur). The private companies who operate windfarms are entitled to compensation - "constraint payments" - whenever the grid asks them to stop producing so much energy because a bloody nuclear power station finally made its mind up to work. If the industry was still nationalised, though, no such "constraint payments" would be required.
Anyone who bangs on about windfarms being "paid to not produce electricity" is effectively campaigning for the re-nationalisation of the energy sector in the UK - which would also put an end to the so-called subsidies which don't actually get paid to wind, but do get paid to oil, gas, coal and nuclear.
The maniacs of "Stop Subsidised Windfarms Around Tamworth" clearly imagine that they're onto a winner by trying to fool their neighbours about the whole subsidy issue.
To which we will only say - okay, go ahead, remove ALL subsidies for energy.
And then, you blinkered, blithering idiots, you'll thank your lucky stars for windfarms.
Monday, 2 April 2012
By the start of this year, there were 6,584 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity in the UK. So, roughly 6,000 MW of installed wind power capacity gave us nearly 5% of our electricity last year. With a further 3,756 MW currently under construction, that will bring us to about 7.5% of our electricity requirements. 5,222 MW of installed wind capacity had already received planning consent, and a further 11,485 MW are going through the planning process. Sadly, some of those will be blocked by self-obsessed nimbies who have no interest in the national need. Even so, we can expect more than 2 gigawatts of installed capacity to come online every year, which is very good news.
At the same time, polls - even those suppressed by the right-wing newspapers which commissioned them - continually and consistently show that a clear majority of Britons support wind energy and are even in favour of subsidies for wind power. Those "subsidies" have been grossly overestimated by anti-wind campaigners - in fact, fossil fuels currently receive FIVE TIMES as much in government subsidies as wind energy gets in top-up fees from the profits of the energy companies.
All this good news for Britain (and the world) is bad news for the nimbies, who would rather pretend that wind power never works - except when it works too well (this is a strange bit of nimby doublethink which is not borne out by real-world experience: high winds back in December led to windfarms contributing an astonishing 12% of the UK's electricity, so clearly they did not have to be "paid" to be "turned off" - no, they did their jobs amazingly well!)
But when people as deluded and vicious as the nimby minority find themselves losing a battle, they just get worse. You can tell this is happening right now. The Green Building Forum website has been hijacked by muck-raking nimbies, turning it into a Green Bashing Forum. And if you want to see what frothy-mouthed hysteria looks like, check out the ludicrous "Save the Dales" nimby website, which merrily repeats a bunch of nimby nonsense on a grand scale.
In fact, the Knab's Ridge Windfarm already exists just outside Harrogate. Eight turbines have been doing their bit there since 2008. The site works, so plans are afoot to expand this successful windfarm, eventually bringing the total number of turbines up to an impressive 36.
According to the fevered nimbies of "Save the Dales" (save the Dales from what, exactly???), this expansion of an already existing windfarm will "destroy" the area "in the name of international corporate greed". Unless, of course, there is a "major public outcry".
Now, you can only claim that the landscape will be "destroyed" if you're not really thinking about wind turbines, but something else altogether ... unmitigated rising global temperatures, for example. And it seems odd that a few more turbines will "destroy" a beautiful area when the eight which are already there clearly haven't. Furthermore, you can only claim that this imaginary destruction is solely "in the name of international corporate greed" if you deny that wind power contributes significantly to our electricity needs which - as figures recently released by the DECC prove - it obviously does.
Looking at the bizarre twisted language used by the fanatics of "Save the Dales", you can see the Goering Principle at work. These crazies are trying to start a false war against our future. They are trying to trick people into going to war ("a major public outcry") by pretending that they are being attacked ("this beautiful area WILL VERY SOON be destroyed in the name of international corporate greed"). Nonsense, of course, but very effective nonsense - as the spiritual mentor of these demented nimbies, Hermann himself, was well aware.
The amount of truth-bending required to achieve the aims of madcap nimby groups like this one is mind-boggling. But truth never meant a thing to the mindless nimbies of the anti-windfarm fringe. Eight turbines have not "destroyed" the area. But, somehow or other, 36 will. Unless people are tricked into going to war with people who are not their enemies (the company which operates the windfarm used to be Yorkshire Water) for the sole benefit of a few demented demagogues.
So, we're back in the topsy-turvy world of nimby "reality". Out there in the real world, wind power is contributing handsomely to our energy needs at a lower cost than nuclear or coal, with far lower emissions that coal or gas, much more safely than nuclear and gas (nuclear may not even have a future in this country, while gas has just shown how safe it is by blowing up in the North Sea) and with only a fraction of the "subsidies" paid to nuclear and other fossil fuels. Every megawatt of wind-generated electricity is one less generated by expensive, dangerous, polluting conventional sources. And a 36-turbine windfarm will generate A LOT of cheap, clean, green electricity. With hardly any noise or adverse impact.
But, in the alternative reality inhabited by nimby nutters, windfarms don't do anything, except when they do too much, and they will destroy everything, even when they have manifestly failed to destroy it already, and they cost more than all the more expensive options which receive much more in real subsidies ("Save the Dales" have really gone off on one about the "subsidies" for wind - they're turning into odd little Bolshevik revolutionaries in their utter contempt for wealthy landowners like David Cameron's father-in-law). No, according to nimby groups like "Save the Dales", a proposed extension to a windfarm that already exists and has been contributing to our energy needs for four years is a "horror story".
That's right. They're telling you that you're being attacked. And they will no doubt rain down their poisonous nimby contempt on anyone who points out how successfully wind power is already powering our nation - the equivalent of "denouncing pacifists for their lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger". Nimby groups do tend to attack their opponents in a determined attempt to silence any alternative opinions, and then they go all whiny when their disgraceful tactics are exposed.
But in the real world, the Yorkshire Dales are not under any threat from wind turbines. From the effects of climate change, yes. Not from windfarms, though.
Practitioners of the Goering Technique will try to convince you otherwise. So that you will vote against your own best interests and go to war with the very people who are working towards a better environment and a safer future. If you respect the facts, you will be accused of "exposing the countryside to danger".
People, you are not being "threatened", "menaced", or "attacked" by wind turbines. They're already doing us a power of good, and they are not the real threat to the country. Don't fall for the lies of the nimbies, who are not your friends.
Bear in mind what happened in the past when Hermann Goering's principles were followed, and then ask yourself - do a few more turbines really pose a greater threat to everything we hold dear than the sort of person who campaigns so aggressively and dishonestly against them?