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Opinion: Rosie Boycott on Wiveliscombe's potential wind farm
7:00am Saturday 20th July 2013 in News
AFTER a public consultation on plans to build wind turbines in Wiveliscombe, Brendon Energy claims more than half of people support the idea.
Former Fleet Street journalist and recent arrival to the town ROSIE BOYCOTT explains why there’s more than meets the eye and says such proposals would kill the countryside.
“THE recent survey on renewable energy (County Gazette, June 11*) has provoked strong reaction in Wiveliscombe and surrounding parishes.
Some have said the survey, sponsored as it was by would-be wind turbine developers Brendon Energy, was guilty of bias and was designed to lead respondents to a ‘pro-wind’ conclusion.
I would agree with that view.
Be that as it may, only half of the 400 respondents – in itself a tiny proportion of the community – expressed enthusiasm for wind turbines.
The developer’s post-survey PR omitted to mention that strong opponents outnumbered strong supporters.
By no stretch of the imagination could the views of 200 people be described as a ringing endorsement of wind turbines.
No surprise, you might say, given the threat of 75m (20-storey), gyrating, man-made, shining metallic structures in prominent positions in our otherwise unspoilt and tranquil landscape.
A few weeks ago in Scotland, 40 birdwatchers dashed to the Hebrides to glimpse the white-throated needletail, which has only been sighted eight times in the UK since 1846.
Imagine their horror when the blue and brown bird they had come so far to see flew into a turbine and was literally shredded in front of their eyes.
This, you may say, is also a biased view of wind turbines, but there is NO doubt that they drastically affect the wildlife where they are built.
You can accuse me of being a NIMBY, but over this issue we should ALL be NIMBYs.
Of course, I believe in renewable energy, but not at the expense of the environment alternative sources are in the business of protecting.
There ARE other solutions, For instance, mid-size solar photo-voltaics, installed on structures such as industrial units and farm buildings, are effective and almost entirely uncontentious.
The truth is that the main harvest from wind farms comes in the subsidy payments to their operators and the landlords on whose fields and hills they are built.
The Environment Secretary himself recently said in an unguarded moment that “wind farms are a complete scam”.
I’m a recent arrival in Wiveliscombe, I love this area greatly and I’m very far from alone in opposing this scheme.
There are now so many of us that we have established Friends of the Hills (FOTH) as a community forum that will enable concerned residents to co-ordinate responses and organise resistance to what they see as inappropriate development.
FOTH, which is adding numbers by the day, is at pains to emphasise that it is not a simple protest group.
It believes strongly in the important contribution of renewable energy to our environment, but argues that wind turbines on the scale envisaged by Brendon Energy risk killing the patient rather than curing it.
So, along with fellow FOTH members I urgently want to hear from Brendon Energy that it will leave our wonderful landscape unmolested by these machines, which have been described by Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, as the single greatest threat to our countryside.
In the meantime, FOTH continues to muster its troops – you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org – and is prepared to demonstrate that medium- and large-scale wind turbines are an intrusion this community will not tolerate.”
*THE County Gazette ran an article last week where the developers claimed 51% of people in Wiveliscombe supported wind power.
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