THE BIG DEBATE: Should Lincolnshire have more wind farms?
Few issues in Lincolnshire are more divisive – here, campaigners make their cases...
James Pocklington, a member of the Lincolnshire Pro Wind Alliance
The answer will be influenced by your views on two issues: global warming and energy security.
Global warming is happening and it is being driven predominantly by the way in which the world economies emit large quantities of carbon dioxide. The consequences of allowing the planet to heat up are severe for all life on earth.
Nationally, we face an energy crisis, brought about by an increased reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Wind turbines are a proven and efficient technology that can play a part in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and make us less vulnerable to a disruption in the supply of fossil fuel. So why do some people seem intent on stopping their deployment?
There is the fact that they are a visual intrusion. There is no denying the scale of them and if you believe that they are as “useless” as some people are saying, then I guess you could be forgiven for opposing their construction.
However, the truth is that wind turbines are doing the important job of significantly reducing the amount of fossil fuels we burn in a year.
If the facts about wind turbines were as widely circulated in the media as the falsehoods are, then I doubt the debate on wind would be this polarised.
Understanding the vital importance of wind turbines to our future is the key to accepting their presence within our landscapes.
It should be understood that wind turbines are not a complete substitute for the fantastically powerful fossil fuels that the world has come to rely on, but they are at the vanguard of a new range of electricity generators that will transform the energy supply of this country.
Due to increased economic viability, onshore wind turbines now receive the lowest payment/unit generated of all renewable energy generators.
The Government constantly monitor the assistance provided to our fledging renewable energy generators, ensuring that developing technology such as wave and tidal (up to 30MW) now receive 5 times the payment/unit of on shore wind.
Every renewable technology has an important part to play; we have reacted too slowly to a growing crisis to have the luxury of choice.
Equally important in the future energy consumption of our country is on the demand side.
We have shocking levels of energy wastage throughout our society and pressure could be taken off the challenge to meet demand if we all did more to reduce consumption through improved management.
However, onshore wind is a technology that we have readily available, right now. We live in the windiest country in Europe, in a county that has the open space to make the most of this free resource.
We should judge every wind farm application on merit and ensure that developers follow the procedures for minimising impact on local communities, but we should remain determined to do what we can to support the change to renewable energy generation in the UK.
Melvin Grosvenor, campaigner against wind farms
I and a growing number of Lincolnshire people, have become increasingly concerned over the apparent “free for all”, with speculative wind turbine developers, aggressively targeting every part of Lincolnshire’s countryside, threatening to invade the county with huge industrial turbines, up to 127m high, with vast spinning blades up to 46m long.
It appears nowhere is sacrosanct – even the cherished Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Lincolnshire’s sparsely populated historical countryside, in which the stunning Lincolnshire Wolds AONB acts as magnet for tourists and tranquilly, is the backdrop of many of our long views across the landscape to and from the Wolds, with Lincoln Cathedral standing majestic over the centuries watching over the landscape.
We do appreciate that Lincolnshire is renowned for its big skies, defining feature of the county.
Responding to this and the drive from Government targets for renewable energy, Lincolnshire County Council has carried out a survey to consult everyone in the county on a wind farm policy.
The justification for this has been made by the majority of respondents who were in favour of the lead the county council has taken.
Indeed, 75 per cent have also indicated that all Lincolnshire’s district councils, responsible for planning decisions, should embrace this policy and adopt it into their local development plans.
The many local residents groups I work with are at the forefront of this wind turbine invasion. If all planning applications succeed they would have turbines towering over their local communities, with residents only 534 metres from turbines as at Croft, with their known problems of low frequency noise and shadow flicker.
Nearly 7,000 residents have already registered their concerns to East Lindsey District Council. This is a serious issue which needs to be addressed.
John Hayes, MP for Spalding working within the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has stated “enough is enough”, as the key target for 13GW of renewable energy has already been met and yet we are facing a feeding frenzy of developers, harvesting the renewable energy subsidies, which wind turbines attract, increasing our energy bills and adding to fuel poverty.
The county council has highlighted this issue.
Lincolnshire has played an active role the generation of renewable energy, through wind turbines and other less invasive technology. Huge arrays of offshore turbines, are also impacting on the low lying fen and coastal marsh landscapes and are visible from within the Wolds.
I sincerely support the need for the development of less invasive and new, diverse renewable energy technology, creating investment and long-lasting employment. These developers are mainly non-UK and import their turbines.
In closing, I refer to a statement by James Lovelock: “I am James Lovelock, scientist and author, known as the originator of Gaia theory, a view of the Earth that sees it as a self-regulating entity that keeps the surface environment always fit for life…I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens, but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied.
“We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage, because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs.
“We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.”