Michael McCarthy: Ghastly, lethal to birds – but a necessary evil
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Monday 04 June 2012
There aren't that many genuine hard cases in the environment, where both sides have right on their side, but the case of wind energy is one of them.
On the one hand, even if climate change has fallen off the political agenda because of the recession, the global warming problem has not remotely gone away, and we need low-carbon, renewable energy more than ever. Not only do we need it, we are legally obliged to provide it under EU law: we have signed up to achieving 15 per cent of our energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 (at present the figure is about 6.7 per cent).
Solar power, wave power, tidal power and nuclear power are all a long way off in terms of major deployment, and wind energy, with those massive turbines, is in effect the only game in town.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that those turbines are a major and unmissable intrusion on any cherished piece of countryside.
Some of the proposals put forward have been outrageous, such as the All Duine wind farm on the edge of the Cairngorms, rejected by Scottish councillors this year.
Fighting proposals such as these was not nimbyism – the spectacular landscapes they would have despoiled can inspire us all. The point is to try to make sure that turbines only go in the appropriate place.
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