I wonder just how much the residents and councillors of the Calderdale region know what is happening to the special landscape of the upper Calder valley that is bit by bit being destroyed by, so-called domestic wind turbines.
I wonder if they care about this urban lung that provides wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities for those who live and work in the concrete jungle. I wonder too if they care about funding these schemes direct from their pocket without deriving one iota of benefit themselves.
The upper Calder valley and the moorlands of the South Pennines have a special and unique landscape value, to be found nowhere else in the world. It draws people, not just from the local communities but from wider afield to enjoy the peace and tranquillity as well as the rugged wilderness experience and above all the long range view across wild rolling hills. Aled Jones in his recent visits to the area for the TV programme ‘Songs of Praise’ was clearly besotted with the area and the shots that we saw confirmed just how beautiful and special it is and it’s ours. Tourists make a valuable contribution to our local economy that provides jobs and helps pay rates and taxes and that helps us all.
But this is under threat as a result of the creeping blight of individual wind turbines. Some people say they actually like them some people hate them. My opinion about wind turbines is that they are fine for those who do not have electricity at all, like many poor people in Africa but as a source of continuous power they are hopeless.
Today as I write this letter the weather outside is freezing cold; the place is covered with snow and the turbines have stopped turning because there is no wind. The grid has to provide power at all times, and in order to cope with the intermittent supply from wind they still keep the conventional powers stations running in readiness and they have stand-by gas or diesel powered generators sitting there to come on stream to cover the inefficiencies of wind, which at best is only 25 to 28% efficient.
The individuals who seek to have their own turbine will tell you that they are trying to make a contribution towards saving the world by reducing their carbon footprint. Please do not fall for this – for a start the energy and carbon generated in the manufacture and erection of the turbine is immense. Consider the oil based plastics, fibreglass and toxic resins, steel from Sweden, copper from Africa, transportation of materials from a distant location and the energy used to dig the foundations and the carbon generated concrete to fill the hole. No to mention Samarium – a very rare earth element only found in China – but which is essential to make the generator work.
The bottom line is that these individuals seek to make money. They already have money otherwise they would not be able to afford the £60,000 to £80,000 needed to finance the project. But they want more and they do not care about the landscape or the fact that you are paying. They don’t just erect a turbine sufficient for their own needs but make sure it is well above capacity so that power can be sold to the grid at a profit.
Having gained permission and built the turbine, they can then sit back and watch the money trickle in with every spin of the blade. This comes from the massive subsidies that the government allow for these worthless schemes. Wind power costs almost 3 times as much as that which comes from the conventional generators and without the subsidy, the owner just would not be able to sell it to the grid.
The money comes from the amounts levied on our electricity bills that ever household has to pay – even those living on the breadline! And it does not stop there because local authorities, using more of our money, provide grants to fund the scheme as well!
It was originally intended that the levy would be used to decommission nuclear power plants but when not much of that happened and when a huge amount of cash built up it was diverted to wind in an attempt, by the politicians to win the green vote – wind turbines standing white and stark on a remote hill, lazily turning not only makes a wonderful political statement but it provides reassurance for those who seek to pull down the coal power stations.
So what of these individual turbines that are slowly but surely finding their way into our treasured landscape? Take a ride around the upper Calder valley and see for yourself these 20 metre high structures ring-fencing the hills. And take a thought that it is you that is paying for the privilege of them being there and think of what they are not doing for you except muck up your landscape.
The recent reduction of subsidies for solar panels did not half make owners of these panels fair wince at the news and now I see over 100 MP’s are lobbying David Cameron to reduce subsidies on land based turbines too because they consider them to be useless and do not see why individuals should make money at the expense of others.
As far as I am concerned – Bring It On, because without subsidies there would be no land based turbines and that would be good for our pockets and for our precious countryside.