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Are wind farms an eyesore or do they blow you away?

Plans are afoot to build another wind farm on Thornton Moor – old home of the Brontë sisters. Opinion is divided: although some are in favour of wind farms, others think they will damage the landscape and impact on tourism.

Personally, I am all in favour of wind turbines as I think they are really important.

The UK has 40% of Europe’s entire wind resource and plenty of coastlines for offshore wind, so we should make the most of it.

It’s easy to be against wind farms unless you have considered all the alternative options.

We need new power

Yes, wind turbines are visible in our landscape and we need quite a few of them to produce the same amount of energy as a traditional power plant, but what if we don’t build any? We would have to keep relying on imported energy as well as building new power stations.

Of course, we can upgrade existing power plants but we are likely to need new ones too, and nuclear power plants are seen as a low carbon alternative. How would people react if the go-ahead was given for a nuclear power plant near their home?

With its great wind capacity, the UK already has 339 wind farms in operation, generating over 6,000 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power more than 3.6 million homes. And there are a further 50 wind farms under construction and 272 other projects that have been given the go-ahead.

Wind farms – an eyesore?

But some people don’t like wind farms. They object by saying that they’re an eyesore, can impact on tourism, are noisy and can kill birds. But for me, when I see a wind turbine, I don’t see ugliness – I think of clean technology, innovation, modernism and sustainability.

I also find wind farms reassuring, because I know this is electricity we are producing here in the UK, simply from the power of wind. The energy we produce doesn’t depend on anyone else, on importing any gas or coal and it should provide us with energy security and shield us from rising oil prices in the future.

And while it might cost us all a bit more on our energy bills now, I believe it’s important to take a long-sighted view and see the benefits for the future, especially if oil prices keep rising as they have in the last few years.

Do you think we should be planning more wind farms in the UK? Or should we look to other forms of energy to see us through to the future?

Do you like wind farms?

No - I think they're awful (48%, 487 Votes)

Yes - I think they're a great idea (40%, 399 Votes)

I kind of like them, but not in my back yard (9%, 90 Votes)

I'm not sure yet (3%, 32 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,009

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Comments
Member

Wind farms are great but they can create residuary
unacceptable levels of noise as to constitute a legal
nuisance…. there was a case where a disgruntled
neighbour succeeded in obtaining a noise abatement
order of some kind or restricting its unfettered use.

Member

This was a case that actually occurred in the UK that was reported
some 2-3 years ago if I correctly recall…. repetitive whosh, whosh
,whosh, I can imagine and particularly when not at optimal setting OR
as to there being a malfunction of some kind.

Have never been to such a place myself to hear first-hand,
so what’s stated is hearsay (what else?).

Member

Can’t recall the detailed facts but it was injunctive relief
sought and being obtained in Court whether dispute was between
individual neighbours or as to individual and nearby wind farm…
cannot believe wind turbines even if singly are completely silent, noise
IS generated and the question is one of degree as to whether those
adversely affected – on a subjective basis – shd have to continue to
put up with it…. put in another way, has a tortious wrong been
committed (?) resulting in loss and damage, if so aggrieved party is legally
entitled to seek remedies which the Court is duty-bound seriously to consider
if not grant outright following trial of the issues.

Member

When considering the cost/benefit analysis I’ve discovered there is an important factor that is rarely considered. On a visit to Canada I asked why some of the wind-turbines weren’t working. On each occasion I was told that they ‘cost a lot to fix when they go wrong’ and the local government/land holder responsible felt unable to do so in the current financial climate (in some cases – years). I don’t actually mind them if they’re useful but they’re just an eyesore if they’re not!

Member

Hmm.

I love them and I would be very happy to have huge wind farms within feet of my home.

Can someone help me to understand two of the arguments against them please? I genuinely don’t get these two:

1) noise: I have made a point of visiting a great many wind farms because I like them. I’ve photographed and video’d several. In every case – regardless of the weather (and I’ve been at some such as Royd Moor in South Yorkshire in terribly stormy conditions and some, such as the latest one in Doncaster (opened Jan 2012) on days so still that I was amazed to see the blades were turning) – I have been unable to hear even the slightest noise from the turbines at all, save for a very occasional “clang” at Royd Moor (not noticed this at any others) when the Nacelle turns slightly as the wind direction changes. I really cannot grasp where the issue of noise comes from? What noise is there? Are there some farms / turbines using a different technology that makes a noise?

2) harm to Birds: I’m a member of the RSPB and I know that the RSPB are anti-wind farm because they claim that they harm birds. How? I don’t understand this one either. When I’ve visited wind farms I have never seen injured or dead birds around the turbines. I never see birds fly into the sails. Sometimes I see birds perch on top of the Nacelle, but that’s it. The RSPB don’t seem to me (as a member) to have made it either clear or easy to find out what exactly this danger is.

The only other point I’d make is that it is often claimed that Wind Turbines cannot operate in high winds as it is unsafe. Readers may recall that in the severe storms in Scotland late last year there was TV footage of a wind turbine (offshore) on fire in the storms. I heard a report on the TV news, which was repeated several times that week, in which a National Grid spokesperson stated that the reason turbines had to be stopped in very high winds was because the National Grid cabling could not cope with the amount of power generated at high wind speeds. I’ve not heard this story again since those storms but it seemed to me to be absolutely shameful, if true, that under-investment in the Grid meant that free electricity from the wind could not be used.

Sorry to all those who think the turbines are ugly: I don’t really agree – they are less ugly than coal, oil, gas or nuclear power stations (and also far smaller) and they can be erected much faster and more cheaply than power stations too.

I’m all for them and think it’s wicked that we have not invested much more in wind (and wave) power decades ago.

I would love to hear more about the noise and especially the bird issues though.

Member
Nick says:
18 April 2012

HI Dave D,
In response to your point “2) harm to Birds: I’m a member of the RSPB and I know that the RSPB are anti-wind farm because they claim that they harm birds. How? I don’t understand this one either. When I’ve visited wind farms I have never seen injured or dead birds around the turbines. I never see birds fly into the sails. Sometimes I see birds perch on top of the Nacelle, but that’s it. The RSPB don’t seem to me (as a member) to have made it either clear or easy to find out what exactly this danger is.”
I disagree, the RSPB are very responsible and on their website http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/policy/windfarms/index.aspx they suggest they only oject to 6% of all wind farms. As far as I can work out they beleive that climate change is a bigger threat to bird death than wind turbines and are pro on the condition that they are suitably located.
Either way a recent report came out and is shown on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17694256 )stating “many bird species are unaffected by wind farms, concludes a study carried out by UK bird charities.”

Member

I fully agree with everything you’ve said here Dave. As soon as somebody proposes to put up a turbine around here the uproar is deafening and it goes on and on. Our forebears littered this glorious countryside with windmills with whooshing sails, clattering machinery, and happy millers whistling as they sewed their sacks up. Nowadays we can’t even have a tranquil turbine. Each village probably only needs one or two to become virtually self-sufficient. To my mind they look a lot nicer than rooftops covered in those boring static PV panels.

Member
No2Wind says:
22 April 2012

Try reading up about RSPB and RSPB Energy. Also expand your mind and look at Iberica 2000 by Michel Duchamps for bird mortalities. [especially raptors] The photographs are quite gruesome with eagles being regularly decapitated. We have such birds of prey in Scotland and the islands.
Altamont in California.
Wind Turbine Syndrome.