/ Home & Energy

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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hummingbird99 says:
18 June 2012

Wavechange –
Wind energy supporters often tout turbines because of the misguided belief that they will get us off fossil fuels—when, in fact, they commit us to a fossil fuel future. Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—and we cannot predict when that time will be. Highly variable wind conditions may mean the turbine generates electricity in the morning on Monday, in the middle of the night on Tuesday, and not at all on Wednesday. A true believer might be willing to do without electricity at the times when the wind is not blowing, but the general population will not. Public utilities and electric co-ops cannot—they are required to provide electricity 24/7 and to have a cushion that allows for usage spikes. So, during that average 30% of the time that the turbine blades are spinning, the natural gas or coal-fueled power plants continue to burn fossil fuels—though possibly slightly less in an extended period of windy weather, and full-steam-ahead the remaining 70% of the time. (Research shows that turning up the heat on power plants, and then turning it back down, and up again actually increases the CO2 emissions.) Absent a major breakthrough in expensive energy storage, wind can never save enough fossil fuel to make any significant difference. After twenty years of subsidies, wind energy has not replaced one traditional power plant.
Therefore, wind energy connected to the Grid INCREASES fossil fuel usage. So what is your argument? YOU might be happy to taylor your energy usage to when the wind blows or the sun shines but the vast majority of the population in the UK AREN’T. So, let’s just carry on and on wasting money, covering the UK in wind farms and NOT bother finding a solution then. It is your arguments that bring us back to hamster wheels and pedalling bikes.

There is little point in responding to your recycled arguments. Read what John has had to say if you think little of my views.

At least you have registered that I am prepared to tailor my use of electricity. You have the confidence to speak for the rest of the population, which is more than I have. If the price of electricity was continuously variable according to the contribution of wind and solar power, you could find many taking advantage of cheaper prices for purposes such as water heating and turn down the thermostat a little when the price is high. Note that my statement is a little more cautious than yours.

I was aware of the visual impact of wind farms at the start of these discussions. After Jaz made the valid point about the environmental and human problems associated with neodymium production I did make a point of looking into this, as I investigated the issue of the effect of wind turbines on birds. I wonder if you have given similar consideration to the deaths, illness and environmental destruction associated with coal-fired power stations and nuclear power plants. Do consider these issues, which will help illustrate that all forms of electricity generation are beset by problems. As we have already agreed, conservation of power is a priority.

My comment about hamster wheels and people pedalling bicycles was obviously a joke, but then so is looking at one side of an argument. 🙂

Chloe Pink says:
19 June 2012

It would be good if you go back through this thread and digest the facts instead of ranting on.
Even with thousands of wind turbines we still need conventional generators…
What do you want in your back yard:
2,000 x 2MW wind turbines and a conventional generator
a conventional generator
I can’t be bothered to go over the same simple facts with you; there’s a wealth of information on this thread but it appears to be wasted on you.

Assume that I can’t be bothered to read the simple facts.

Chloe Pink says:
19 June 2012

It’s not an assumption Wavechange, it’s obvious you haven’t as you keep going on about the issues associated with conventional means of electricity generation (“I wonder if you have given similar consideration to the deaths, illness and environmental destruction associated with coal-fired power stations and nuclear power plants. Do consider these issues, which will help illustrate that all forms of electricity generation are beset by problems.”) yet wind won’t stop these forms of generation and therefore adds further problems onto the ones we already have.
If wind generators were an alternative to other generators then it would be reasonable to look at which power generator would be best but as it is additional to and not an alternative to, it’s almost irrelevant.
Anyway it seems like wind power is a bit of a dead duck with the subsidies being phased out.

I read the article when it was published. See my comment below.

“Even with thousands of wind turbines, we still need conventional generators” says Chloe Pink and that is absolutely and indisputably correct. And, by and large, we have them. The windfarms will provide extra power and will enable some of the conventional generators to switched out or on put hot standby at different times or seasons. To the extent that we are majoring on off-shore windfarms the backyard argument loses some of its force. As wavechange has consistently said, all forms of power generation have their drawbacks, but the one drawback that renewable sources don’t have is the depletion of finite resources. Objections to wind power cover the whole specrrum – economic, aesthetic, environmental impact, wildlife concerns, noise. These are all rational responses to an extremely complex issue and I can see merit in the points that are made. Unlike a number of commentators, however, I am not opposed to any type of power generation – they all have their place. I happen to think it would be better to re-balance the mix and build up the contribution available from wind [and solar and wave] energy in preference to using up more un-renewable natural resources. To address hummingbird99’s points, I am not over-bothered whether it can be proven that there are odd periods when the wind does not blow, anywhere at all, off-shore or on-shore. Baseload generating capacity will always have to be available to cope with that. But with sophisticated modern controls and the correct incentives [rather than some of the perverse ones in place at present] we ought to be able to develop a sensible plan for powering the UK at the heart of which a reduction in energy demand would be a key feature. It is just a guess, but our failure to eliminate any mainstream generating capacity is more to do with the change from smokestack industries to commerce and administration reliant on computers [every mobile phone and laptop is taking power from the grid in quite astonishing quantities overall]; progressive electrification of the railways coupled with much heavier trains has also taken up much of the slack.

Once again I support what John has to say. I see a need for an integrated approach to energy generation and I believe that there is plenty of scope for a progressive move to use of electricity from renewable resources. I acknowledge that this will only happen if we move towards a more sustainable lifestyle, including a reduction in energy use. Man’s impact on the planet is being considered at the Rio+20 summit.

A voluntary approach to energy saving is unlikely to work. Whereas some people have been using energy saving lamps for years (and benefitting from reduced electricity bills) it took EU legislation to force the issue. Many have collected and regurgitated the reasons for not using these lamps. Some are valid but those worried about the small amount of mercury they contain should be aware that generating additional electricity from coal puts rather more mercury into the atmosphere.

You might be surprised to know that I have and will continue to argue against wind power, with those who believe that this is the only way forward. Their arguments make no more sense than ones made by those totally opposed to wind power. As John says, this is an extremely complex issue. Anyone who makes no attempt to see both sides of an issue is not worth listening to, in my view.

You might also be surprised that I am happy for subsidies for wind power etc to be phased out. There has now been plenty of opportunity to evaluate wind power and solar PV.

Some are valid but those worried about the small amount of mercury they contain should be aware that generating additional electricity from coal puts rather more mercury into the atmosphere.

I am referring to the fact that old fashioned incandescent bulbs use about four times as much electricity as modern energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps.

Chloe Pink says:
19 June 2012

“And, by and large, we have them. The windfarms will provide extra power and will enable some of the conventional generators to switched out or on put hot standby at different times or seasons.”
See earlier posts in this thread and Hugh Sharman (Telford ICE papers) and Eon UK (House of Lords Select Committee on the Economics of Renewable Energy) and finally Tindall Centre for reminder that generators used on hot standby produce more CO2 per unit of fuel burned than when used otherwise.

Make more use of renewables in combination to compensate for their deficiencies and there is less need for backup. Your argument is correct but of limited relevance.

Thank you Chloe. I knew hot standby had a worse CO2 performance which is why it should be kept to the minimum by the use of advanced meteorological forecasting, careful planning and load shedding, sophisticated energy management, and power conservation incentives. But CO2 reduction is not the only consideration. Saving the planet’s fossil fuels could be the bigger prize. I have to confess I find it difficult to see what there is not to like about offshore windfarms supplying some of the power we need. And in terms of inland developments I happen to find the appearance of turbines preferable to the rash of PV panels disfiguring so many of the social housing schemes around my part of the world – and they look worse on the old people’s bungalows [where they seem to have been installed as a priority on almost all of them] because they are out of all proportion to the scale and geometry of the building.

I agree that the solar PV panels can look out of place, but integration of panels into the design of new buildings should do a lot to help. It was interesting that many complained about the appearance of new-fangled satellite dishes, but even multiple TV aerials generally escaped criticism.

I agree about offshore wind farms and have read that the cost is likely to fall. I do wish that all our turbines, offshore and onshore, had been installed and run by British companies.

hummingbird99 says:
19 June 2012

How on earth can an argument be correct but be of “limited relevance”? You do not seem to grasp that ALL renewables will need 100% back up ALL the time……
And what is the point of backing up renewables with even more renewables?
As Chloe Pink says:
Even with thousands of wind turbines we still need conventional generators…
What do you want in your back yard:
2,000 x 2MW wind turbines and a conventional generator
a conventional generator
Add to those 2000 wind turbines a few thousand fields of solar panels + a few flooded valleys etc to bring the wind power to your door via hydro etc etc. Really the only possible “renewable” back up is biomass and that is certainly not without its masive environmental problems either.
You seem unable to grasp this basic concept. Sometimes I think the wind industry is funded by the fossil fuel industry – the more we have the more we will burn.

Well this is getting tiresome and it serves to support my hypothesis that those who have the strongest opinions are often those who have least grasp of a subject. That’s not intended to be a personal criticism but one that applies to anyone who can see only one side of an argument.

One thing that I have learned since getting involved with this debate is that it is not just wind power and other renewable energy sources that attract subsidies. See for example:


I’m happy that we should end subsidy of wind power, since it is now in widespread use and is an established technology. I cannot see why we are spending a penny on subsidising fossil fuels unless there are tangible benefits that can be achieved.

Various contributors have repeatedly mentioned that using fossil fuels to back up renewable power sources uses as much energy as when no wind power is used. I suggest that the problem lies with the inflexibility of using fossil fuels and not with wind power. If there is a chance that this problem can be resolved there may be a case for investment, otherwise get rid of the subsidies or use them to develop other forms of renewable energy. Let’s start thinking rather than trotting out the same old, tedious one-sided arguments.

Chloe Pink says:
21 June 2012

“Let’s start thinking” – now there’s a novel idea Wavechange – shame it wasn’t done before the ‘dash for wind’ which has already delivered more damage than it has benefits…

We seem to still be dashing for wind:


Perhaps it is time to invest in other renewable energy sources, to provide power when the wind is not blowing.

hummingbird99 says:
21 June 2012

Please do enlighten us as to how other renewables will compensate for the intermittency/ineffectiveness of wind energy?
Here are some notes from a lecture by Fritz Vahrenholt who is well known in Germany where he’s been a prominent environmentalist for many years. He worked in environmental agencies, and then in the renewables divisions of major energy companies. Currently he is the CEO of the renewables arm of RWE (they install wind farms in the UK). Over a long and distinguished career he has collected many academic honours. He has also been active in German politics as a socialist. Here are the notes:
· As Chief Executive of the renewables branch of RWE, he had a one billion euro budget plus, and failed to make a profit on wind or photovoltaic – “a disaster”
· The lack of sun in Germany caused the PV failure
· The lack of wind (variability from pattern predicted, and less than predicted) in Germany caused the wind failure
· The variability of the wind could have been predicted accurately because the wind follows a ten year cycle called the Atlantic Decadal Oscillation – basically driven by the pressure difference between Iceland and the Azores (there is also a Pacific Decadal Oscillation)
· All these failures caused him to question the received wisdom of the IPCC and the ‘bible’ of the renewables industry, the IPCC report
· He now tends to favour a multi-factorial model including the cosmic ray-sun activity (magnetosphere/solar wind) put forward by Svensmark
· He believes that CO2 is not the main climate change driver – “CO2 models are all inaccurate” and fail to predict
· The best models predict some cooling in the next few years
· Even when renewables create excess energy, it cannot be stored easily or cheaply
· Bond cycles are confirmed world over (that’s Fred Singer’s “Unstoppable Global Warming — every 1500 years”)
· He believes that EU has unhelpfully created a “hustled, angst-driven energy policy”
· His book “The Cooling Sun” will be released in English, date not available
· He has gone from being the darling of Greens in Germany to a hate figure, but he wants science to win, and he believes that it is winning and will win
· Ironically, it is his company, RWE, that is seeking to build the Batsworthy Cross wind farm in North Devon, on the edge of Exmoor. What a glorious irony that the Chief Executive of RWE renewables should now have turned against the theory on which the whole renewables industry is based. Perhaps the sceptics are winning the arguments. End of notes.
If 1 kg of moving hot air can supply, intermittently, one average home with electricity for one year, then 1 kg of fossil fuel can supply 100,000,000 such homes on a 24/365 basis. Now, wait for it, because 1 kg of nuclear fuel can supply 100,000,000,000,000 such homes.
That is what real economies of scale are about to cope with the millions of citizens around now instead of the hundreds around burning wood before the Industrial Revolution.
The only “reliable” renewable to back up wind would be biomass and that is fraught with difficulty too.
But please Wavechange do enlighten us how you would propose to back up one renewable with another? As Germany is building dirty brown coal stations to compensate for their elimination of nuclear, and upsetting their neighbours grids I would be interested to know how you would propose to do it?

I’m not going to bother because it is clear that you are not prepared to acknowledge the environmental issues of what you propose. Furthermore, it would be taking us too far off-topic. John Ward has outlined how this could work.

Rest assured that I am not going to determine government policy.

21 June 2012

Morning ‘Hummingbird99’,

‘But please Wavechange do enlighten us how you would propose to back up one renewable with another? As Germany is building dirty brown coal stations to compensate for their elimination of nuclear, and upsetting their neighbours grids I would be interested to know how you would propose to do it’?

‘Wavechange’ cannot do what you ask, as I have posted elsewhere on this subject, they have taken up this lost cause of Wind Turbines similar to the lost causes of the Euro, et-al!
The hard facts of science will not move ‘Wavechanges’, only time will prove that is a failed concept.
By that time, ‘Wavechange’ will have moved on to another lost cause that flies in the face of logical science, ‘Wavechange’ will have ‘Changed’ their pseudonym, and continue in the same vein.
I personally will not pursue dialogue in response to their post.

I wish you luck in trying to get even a modicum of acceptance of your honest hard facts, but, I feel you are wasting your time.


hummingbird99 says:
21 June 2012

I clearly missed John Ward’s words of wisdom on that front somewhere along the line.
Haven’t actually read anywhere how this would be done without collosal damage to the environment.
I am no physics guru but even I understand the basics involved in all this and the difficulties of meeting the needs of modern society with renewables. It seems to me it is all wishful thinking on behalf of the so-called “greens”.

You are entitled to your view and I’m entitled to mine. Mine is coloured by the fact that in 1960 I moved from a village to a the outskirts of a dirty town and promptly developed asthma, almost certainly was caused by pollution. The introduction of smokeless zones and – much later – emission controls on vehicles has done a lot to improve my quality of life. The sulphur dioxide from power stations 30 miles caused me problems. Thankfully, desulphurisation has done a lot to help. Thanks to drugs developed in my lifetime, I can survive atmospheric pollution without periodic emergency treatment in hospital, but I still suffer. Although I suffer from the effects of pollution more than most people, it is well established that we all suffer even if we are not aware of it. Pollution is only one of the environmental issues that have to be taken into consideration.

Perhaps the reason for our different opinions is that I acknowledge the need for various lifestyle changes to cut our use of energy. One I suggested earlier is to get people living close to where they work rather than commuting, just as they did before we had cars, trains and buses.

I do not know enough about nuclear power to make informed comment. Earlier in the discussion I pointed out that there is no safe dose of radiation, which someone refuted without bothering to check their facts. Even if nuclear power is our salvation and there are no more accidents, there is no reason to continue with our current profligate lifestyle.

I don’t see myself as a ‘green’, though I very much subscribe to the view that we should attempt to minimise our impact on the planet and conserve fossil fuels for future generations.

Since our discussions started I have become much more aware of wind turbines. As I have mentioned, I live close to a big turbine. There are plenty more to be seen in the region and it is rather reassuring to see them in action.

I suggest, again, that thee and me end our discussion. It’s not achieving much.

Hello everyone, please try and be polite to one another. We have commenting guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines – stick to them. Thanks.

hummingbird99 says:
21 June 2012

Thank you Finsbury Parker
I kind of came to that conclusion too but kept on returning for more punishment!
Will heed your advice this time.

21 June 2012

Hi Hummingbird99!

‘Thank you Finsbury Parker
I kind of came to that conclusion too but kept on returning for more punishment!
Will heed your advice this time’.

Whilst ‘Wavechanger’ ignores scientific facts regarding Wind Turbines, ‘Wavechanger’ is more than grateful for Scientific advancements in the field of medicine.
below is a quote Verbatim from ‘Wavechangers’ last post!

‘Thankfully, desulphurisation has done a lot to help. Thanks to drugs developed in my lifetime, I can survive atmospheric pollution without periodic emergency treatment in hospital!

It appears that a selective appreciation of scientific facts applies here!…..Yes??


Finsbury – please don’t pick on other commenters, especially after I have warned you all about being polite to one another. Thanks.

Well, I’m not going to stay here and be insulted. I might come back if others join in the debate.

We live in exciting times. If we were younger we might be able to look forward to meeting up on another planet and discussing the reasons why mankind had to abandon the Earth. 🙂

21 June 2012

‘Perhaps there are other topics on Which Conversation? where we might be in complete agreement. I hope so’.
I am sure there are many, many topics on which we will have total agreement, that’s what being Human is all about.

I wish you well regarding your illness, one thing I do agree, modern living with all its ramifications due to advances in science, medicine et-al, there is bound to be unpleasant side effects!
Sometimes, the side effects are worst than the original disease!


Without recasting ideas I have floated previously, I cannot see any way I can contribute much more to this Conversation, except by going into the issue of CO2 emissions. It has been said that the big defect in renewable energy generation is that it doesn’t do much towards reducing our carbon count, and that CO2 emissions is the biggest problem. If we are really serious about reducing CO2 output, why don’t we tackle the contribution made by internal combustion engines as the priority with a faster – and possibly greater – return? But that’s outside the brief of this Converstaion topic so, like wavechange, I’m going to sit down now and watch from the comfy seats.

21 June 2012

Good morrow John Ward,
Like wavechange, I’m going to sit down now and watch from the comfy seats.

Hmmmm,…Like yourself, I think I will emulate your position.

But, I cannot vouch for ‘Wavechange’,……We will just have to wait and see!


Actually it is John who is going to watch from the comfy seats, but save me a space.

Perhaps there are other topics on Which Conversation? where we might be in complete agreement. I hope so.

hummingbird99 says:
21 June 2012

Dear All (including Patrick) Thanks for making me giggle today!
I guess we have to realise that life today is very tricky and not without its risks and downside. For me, we need a reliable electricity supply and renewables just won’t do that. There are side effects to everything as we know and it is a question of balancing it all up. So, I too, wish Wavechange, luck with his illness. Although wind farms may be a symbol of hope to him, to those living very close who have had to abandon their homes or those who are trapped, they are anything but. Don’t suppose the birds or bats are too happy either.

Thank you hummingbird. My respiratory condition is now fairly stable, thanks to antipollution measures introduced over the years by government. They added to the cost of fuel, affected people’s lifestyle and interfered with personal freedom to pollute. Everyone’s health has benefitted, mine more than most, though there was widespread opposition at the time. I don’t know how old you are, but I guess that you will remember all the opposition to introduction of catalytic converters on new vehicles. That is not so long ago.

Obviously humans and birds need to be taken into consideration when building wind farms in the same way that we need to take care when deciding where to site incinerators and industrial processes.

I don’t have a dog because I’m allergic to them, but if the weather is reasonable I get exercise by going to see the bats. Despite being near to a local wind turbine, the numbers have certainly not fallen since it was built.

Better get back to my comfy seat. 🙂

hummingbird99 says:
21 June 2012

Thanks Wavechange
Perhaps you haven’t noticed a decline in bats in your area but it is certainly a big problem.
You may be interested in this http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/152702125.html
Less bats, more peticides, more allergies …… This is in the US but the more windfarms we get here obviously the problem will get worse. Interestingly, bats eat the midges that carry bluetongue, so the farmers who rent out their land may regret it eventually. (many already do if you check out the internet – there are those who speak out despite the wind industry putting a gagging order in place)

I see you are still trying to engage me in discussion.

Here we go again, choosing information that suits your cause. Why not give consideration to the environmental and human impacts of continued use of fossil fuels?

In England, for example, Natural England, the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB will be consultees for planning applications for proposed turbines and wind farms and their likely environmental impact. The problem might not be as serious as you think and there may be effective mitigation measures.

I’m going on holiday now. I will be off-grid for a week and very aware of the limited amount of electricity available stored in a couple of batteries. I may have Internet access thanks to mobile broadband, but I have some knowledge of the human and environmental aspects of all those transmission masts that litter the country and bathe those nearby in radio waves.

Jaz says:
21 June 2012

I live within 1.3km of 9x413ft wind turbines, which are currently being constructed, and have decimated the countryside where they are being built.

I also live within 2km of a chemical ‘cracker’ plant which produces benzine, which creates cancer, and in my local area, cancer rates are higher than the UK average.

Another 2x328ft turbines are being built within 2.3km, and 3x413ft turbines seeking consent within 2.3km of me.

All of theses are being built within close proximity of the chemical plant which produces benzine, and the University of Glasgow has already issued a scientific report which concludes that pollutants will be distributed in higher concentrations in the local area due to the air turbulence from the turbine blades, yet these are still being built.

We already have serious health concerns in this area from the chemical plant, and the turbines look likely to increase this problem, on top of the known health issues they already cause.

At the bottom of the town, another 16x413ft turbines are seeking approval, to the east, another 6x413ft turbines are seeking consent, and to the west they are building another 14x450ft turbines.

Our area has few remaining countryside and sanctuary for a variety of wild life, and these are being decimated for the wind farms, yet they produce no meaningful electricity, destabilises the power grid, and causes plants to run less efficiently, thus increasing CO2 generation.

I have now met with 4 sets of developers in the local area, and their PR/Political lobbying companies, they all trot out the same old lines, yet when questioned about the health risks, power generation, destruction of wildlife, they avoid answering the questions, and try to ridicule and silence any opposition, to the point that I have received anonymous threat letters, been stopped in the street by suits issuing threats, and a range of other intimidatory acts against myself and family, all to stop me from pursuing my democratic rights to speak out against wind farms.

Since all of this, I now manage a campaign site for the wider area of Fife and have networked with campaign/environmental groups all across the UK, and the all say the same thing, developers try to intimidate and bully those opposed to wind farms to keep them silent.

It is a corrupt business, and unethical, the developers are well aware of the issues, but to admit to the issues would cause the subsidies too dry up, hence the need to continue to outright lie about the benefits of wind.

The only green thing, I have seen about wind turbines at the current rate of technology is the money they produce for landowners and developers

A couple of short videos which highlight the issues of wind:

CO2 & Pollution increased: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F21i4TxDOUk

Short overview of some of the issues with wind (noise, shadow flicker, bat/bird kills, turbine blade failures/breakages, turbine fires): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr3z_7iQ35s

I would be more concerned about living near to a cracker plant, Jaz. I presume you mean benzene, a potent carcinogen, rather than benzine. When I was a chemistry student in 1970, benzene and other solvents that are now known to be hazardous were used in the lab and even in the home. When our class heated flasks of benzene in the open lab, all we were warned about was the fire risk. When I was at school, everyone in the class must have put their hand in the large glass trough of mercury that was kept uncovered in the physics lab. When I was a research student I found an old bottle of NTG marked ‘may be mutagenic’. I don’t know how old it was, but NTG had been used for years as a mutagen for research on bacteria. The purpose of these anecdotes to emphasise how ignorant we can be and how fast our knowledge can advance.

Coal-fired power stations, incinerators, refineries, etc emit a range of chemicals and though we know the hazards of some, others have not been studied. Coal-derived products such as creosote and phenolic disinfectants have been phased out, and for good reason.

You are obviously aware of some of the problems with wind turbines, but it is important to keep this in balance and consider the health and environmental issues of continued use of fossil fuels. I have taken on board your valid point about neodymium production. I do hope that this can be recycled or preferably reused.

Yes, turbines disintegrate and burst into fire, but most of them don’t and the examples that have have been rather overused by pressure groups. Aircraft used to fall out of the sky, but thanks to technological development and experience, air travel is relatively safe. (I certainly don’t approve of air travel on environmental grounds, but that’s another issue.) Hopefully newer turbines will be a lot safer. I am happy for subsidies for wind power to be removed and concerned about companies and landowners making excessive profits.

Power stations, like incinerators, emit all sorts of chemicals and we simply do not know the extent of the risk to our lives. It is wrong to ignore this and the environmental damage caused by extraction and use of fossil fuels. No wonder that pressure groups are ignored. At least Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are trying to look at the broader picture.

And then there is the price of electricity. If all subsidies of renewables were removed and we scrapped our wind turbines etc, the UK is highly dependent on imports of fossil fuels. Much criticism has been made about subsidy of renewable energy, but I wonder if we will be able to afford to buy electricity in future if we were dependent on fossil fuels. I’m not sure that those opposed to wind power have given that much thought.

I understand that by avoiding siting turbines in flight paths, bird deaths can be avoided. It is easy to study bird death by counting corpses, though the area should be fenced off to prevent foxes etc removing them. I know the people who studied bird death when ‘my’ local turbine was installed, and they were disappointed to have little to report.

Our personal prejudices are usually informed by personal experience, but I ask for everyone who contributes to the debate to consider the disadvantages of their favoured option, and also to recognise that none of us are experts or have a good overview of the situation.

Someone put a lot of effort into creating the video about the problems with turbines, Jaz. It would be more useful if they included some of the problems with other ways of generating electricity, to put things in perspective. The video does state that ‘We need to invest in other forms of more reliable renewable energy sources.’ I can agree with that.

Chloe Pink says:
21 June 2012

Ho wnear do you live to your local wind turbine Wavechange?
How long has it been operational?
How do you know there is no decline in bat numbers?

I have not done a bat count.

The turbine is about a mile away, as the bat flies. I think it was installed about 3 years ago.