Only last week, Tim Yeo, the Conservative chair of the Commons energy committee and the Renewable Energy Association, told the UK Energy Summit (organised by The Economist) that there could be no further delays on taking vital decisions needed to build windfarms (oh, and nuclear plants).
He argued that dithering ministers and weak civil servants were risking the lights going out in Britain. Unless the government got to grips with the issue, the UK could fail to attract the £200 billion of new investment needed to upgrade old energy infrastructure.
Just a couple of days later, the Department for Energy and Climate Change released a report, comissioned by the DECC and RenewableUK, which revealed that onshore windfarms brought £548 million into the UK's economy and supported almost 9,000 jobs in 2011. The report also revealed that each megawatt of installed onshore wind energy capacity contributes £700,000 to the UK's gross domestic product. More than £100,000 of that stays in the Local Authority area.
Fantastic news - and that amazing contribution to both jobs and the economy, local and national, from wind power is set to grow over the next few years, reaching about £780 million (and 11,600 jobs) by 2020. Best of all, a significant amount of the economic benefit stays local! So, whenever a nimby dimwit tells you that windfarms bring no local benefits, ignore them: they're either lying, or stupid, or both.
But Tim Yeo was right. The coalition government has been dragging its feet rather over the crucial matter of securing future energy security while reducing our carbon emissions. The government is committed to keeping energy prices to the consumer down. It has also insisted that there will be no public subsidies available for nuclear (apart from the "hidden" subsidies we already know about). Unfortunately, the Reuters news agency has just reported that "UK Nuclear Build Requires Taxpayer Rescue". The Times reported on Monday that French nuclear conglomerate EDF has raised the projected cost of building a new power station from £4.5 to £7 billion. A City analyst has stated that, "If the cost figures are true, new nuclear plants in the UK are not commercially viable."
We've pointed this out before. As Japan has shut down the last of its 54 reactors (and the UN demands action on the terrifyingly dangerous state of the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor No. 4 - you thought you'd heard the last of Fukushima? Well, you haven't), and France and the United States have admitted that nuclear does not make financial sense, the new figures released for the UK indicate that nuclear will be the most expensive form of electricity generation available - more expensive, even, than offshore wind.
Amazing! The nimby idiots who have done so much to hold Britain back love to shriek and shout that wind energy is entirely dependent on "subsidies" (although they can't actually explain what these "subsidies" are) and that onshore wind is "too expensive". In fact, nuclear is entirely dependent on subsidies - REAL subsidies - and is way too expensive. And another thing. Wind power doesn't leave you with 100,000 years worth of hazardous waste to worry about. Doesn't poison the land and the ocean, either (nuclear does).
So - Tim Yeo: right about wind, in that the government really does have to do something about the Nazis on its backbenches who like to spout lies about wind power; not so right, it seems, about new nuclear, which will only go ahead if the British taxpayer agrees to underwrite the costs. Want the most expensive electricity going? No? Then you have to accept wind, which is - or very soon will be - the cheapest.
But last week saw the local elections, and a drubbing for the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. And, whaddya know, the maniacs of the hard-right immediately starting banging their drum and throwing their toys out of the pram.
With so many polls and surveys indicating that the clear majority of Britons support wind power (more, surprisingly, in country areas than in the cities), and with the government's own figures showing the huge contribution made to our ailing economy and jobs market by wind power, you'd like to think that anyone who cares at all about Britain would say, "Heaven's above! We must have more wind! It's so clean, so cheap, so quick to implement, so cost-competitive, so low-carbon, so good for jobs and investment, doesn't scare the horses and tourists, and if anything tends to have a positive effect on the local property market, as well as bringing money into the local economy, and it doesn't kill birds. What could be better? It's a win-win no-brainer! Bring on the windfarms!"
Tory backbenchers, however, don't care about Britain. They want to stop all this "green" nonsense in its tracks. They're following the woeful lead established by UKIP - an openly racist, sexist, homophobic, far-right political party: basically, the BNP in smarter suits. Nutters who think that the Conservative Party is "too liberal" have a nasty habit of voting UKIP, just to show what nutters they are.
UKIP is the natural home of the sort of right-wing thug who opposes wind energy on "principle". UKIP harbours loonies, like the UKIP representative who actually said that fossil fuels are "renewable" (yes, it's true: Steve Reed really does believe that "oil-wells do refill"), who believe that Global Warming is a con designed (by the EU, of course) to enslave us all, and that "Taking energy from winds and tides irreversibly enervates the weather system and slows the rotation of the Earth." (quotes taken from the Yorkshire Post, 5 August 2004).
Incredible. It's almost impossible to believe that anybody could be that daft. But UKIP and its followers are. If you hear anything along the lines of "Global Warming is just a conspiracy invented by legions of careerists hungry for UN- and EU-grants", or that windfarms stop the Earth from turning, or that fossil fuels are actually the real renewables, then you've got a UKIP lunatic in your midst.
And it's not just in the UK that the far-right are trying to combat, not climate change itself, but the very notion of climate change. In America, well-funded conservative think-tanks are pulling every string they can in order to spread confusion and misunderstanding about climate science. Check out this link:
On either side of the Atlantic, then, we see a similar pattern: the extreme right-wing, be that the Tea Party, UKIP, or 101 oddballs on the Tory backbenches, are determined to deprive the majority of what is urgently required and devoutly to be wished - clean, green, inexpensive, renewable energy. In order to persuade the majority that they don't want this desirable and necessary future, they must spread vile and vicious lies. All this, for what? The oil industry. The nuclear industry. The fanatical, crazy ideas of right-wing fanatics.
This just shows why CPRE were so wildly off-target when they claimed (amidst the familiar welter of falsehoods about windfarms) that "communities" feel threatened by wind energy developers. No evidence has yet come to light of a wind energy developer threatening anybody. The people who do all the threatening are the deranged, demented, self-centred, misinformed and thuggish nimby monsters. Not the community (many of whom will be all in favour of wind power) but a loud-mouthed, unprincipled, egotistical few. The very people, in fact, who are a danger to their community, because they insist on putting their own interests ahead of everybody else's, and are happy to lie their heads off to their neighbours if it will terrify them into voting against their own best interests.
Get a grip, CPRE! Ask yourselves this: how many mainstream political parties in the UK are anti-wind, anti-renewables, anti-green? And then ask yourselves - who are the people in your midst who are forcing YOU to adopt an obstructive and misjudged opposition to wind energy in Britain? Is it the UKIP types, perchance? A small, and actually quite mental, minority who routinely spout gibberish about things they don't understand? The tin-pot little dictators of Middle England? Probably.
Normal people do not oppose wind power. Only the crazed fanatics of the far-right do.
The worry is that the Conservative Party, under pressure from its more doo-lally backbenchers, will try to attract the UKIP vote by lurching to the far right. It'll lead to electoral oblivion, but it will also be bad for Britain. Bad for the economy, bad for jobs ... in short, a short-cut to the lights going out.
David Cameron promised "the greenest government ever". We're still waiting - and if the nastier members of the nasty party have any say in the matter, it won't happen.
And so the vast majority of Britons will be let down, betrayed, sold short, just to appease the maniacs of the right-wing press and the Nazi nutters in our midst. Rather like those local authorities who cave in to pressure from the nimby cretins and thereby make sure that they, and everybody else, loses out.