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Windfarm nimbyism says no when we need to say yes

Windfarm nimbyism says no at a time when we need to say yes

Nimbyism neglects the demands of energy security, economic growth and climate change in favour of a narrow self interest

Maria McCaffery, Monday 7 February 2011
An aesthetic objector will start with a sense that a windfarm will in some way devalue the landscape and his property. Sensing that this is not a sufficient reason to object against renewable energy, he will then drag into the debate all sorts of cod-scientific evidence on why wind turbines don't work, often with a tilt at Brussels eurocrats and perceived environmental "political correctness".
Let us for a moment leave aside the question of visual impact, and look at the facts. Is there a lack of debate about windfarms in this country? In the 12-month period to May 2010 there were over 12,000 articles on wind energy and windfarms in the UK press, many of them critical. As a consequence, the latest planning statistics show that in England only 33% of onshore windfarms get approved at local authority level. Worryingly, at many planning inquiries, newspaper opinion pieces and columns are often being produced as evidence against windfarm planning applications, despite a wealth of practical and theoretical evidence from around the world, on every aspect of windfarm operation and safety.

This is particularly unfortunate, as our wind resource, despite being the best in Europe, is woefully underutilised. A large wind turbine in the UK delivers on average 50% more energy than one in Germany, yet despite this we have only one turbine per 100 square kilometres of land mass, compared with six in Germany.

But even at this very limited level of deployment the windfarms in the UK have delivered some notable results. For instance, according to statistics for the third quarter of 2010, in Scotland renewables now supply over a quarter of all electricity, with wind supplying a half of the total and all other renewable technologies the other half. In the UK as a whole renewables are close to 9%, again with wind supplying a half and all other renewable technologies supplying the other half.

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