Letters: Wind-Farms

For and against wind-farms
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The Independent Online

No doubt Terence Blacker received congratulaions from Nigel Lawson and other supporters of the ironically named Renewable Energy Foundation for his anti-wind turbine Notebook (12 July).

His contention that one of the reasons why so many wind-farm applications are being rejected now is because virtually all of the most suitable sites have been taken lacks credibility.

Perhaps he would like to say how many wind-farms have been approved in the South of England. Very few, I would suggest.

In citing the BBC documentary Wind-farm Wars, he unwittingly drew attention to the situation that prevailed in Devon before the Den Brook Valley scheme featured in the programme was launched in 2005. At that time, there were only a handful of wind turbines in the whole of the county.

Significantly, the application for nine large turbines was given the go-ahead after two full-scale public inquiries and several judicial reviews, despite the best efforts of the Renewable Energy Foundation in supporting local opposition.

Until planning authorities take man-made climate change as seriously as they do the Nimby agenda, the cards will always be stacked against wind-farm applications.

Maurice Leppard

Winford, Isle of Wight

Your article "Half of planned wind-farms blown away by force of local protests" (11 July) could have been written by the wind industry.

But the statistic that prompted me to write was "... the proportion of people saying they would be unhappy living within 3 miles of a wind-farm had fallen from 24 to 21 per cent".

How is this statistic remotely relevant? Were the authors really trying to pretend that wind-farms are not proposed far closer to people's homes? What are the percentages at less than one mile and less than half a mile? Nobody will ask because they know that the opposition would be overwhelming.

Most of the 30-plus proposals that I have dealt with to date would erect turbines less than half a mile from people's homes with some as close as 500m. When turbines are 400ft tall, that really does feel like they are in your back yard.

It was also risible that McGrigors complained that "there is little willingness to consider the benefits of renewable energy in context". Objectors are continually frustrated that the planning system effectively prohibits any consideration of the small amounts of useful electricity that a proposal would actually deliver.

Many proposals are for only a handful of these giant turbines and they would have to be repeated more than 500 times to produce the same output as a single modern power station.

Last, the article fails to point out that much of the £1.3bn in "lost investment" would be spent overseas and that this £1.3bn would be more than paid for by greater costs added to energy bills through the opaque Renewables Obligation subsidy scheme, a regressive tax that helps plunge ever more into fuel poverty each year.

In fact, if the government wanted to boost the economy through energy bills it would be much more efficient for them to impose a transparent tax on energy and invest the proceeds in public projects.

Brian Skittrall

Bozeat, Northamptonshire

In your report, "Half of planned wind-farms blown away by force of local protests", you state that failure to win support for wind-farms is being increasing halted by "Nimbies and anti-Wind campaigners".

In the village of Stoke Hammond in Buckinghamshire, three kilometres from where I live, Force 9 are planning a wind-farm of several 125ft turbines in the fields of the valley.

Local opposition against these goliath turbines, which in many cases will be less than 300m from residential houses, is overwhelming. Yet every single person against them who filled out the Force 9 survey questionnaire, can likely be labelled a Nimby or hypocrite due to the loaded manner in which the questions were put.

Question One asks, "What are your views on renewable energy?", requesting you to tick a box to state whether you are very supportive down to strongly against. Question two then asks, "What are your views on wind power?".

Most people are in favour of wind-farms, but the positioning of them is crucial, because evidence from all over the globe shows that they are a major health hazard in close proximity to residential dwellings.

Indeed, Denmark's state-owned Dong Energy has abandoned all future on-shore wind-farm proposals because of these health problems. There has also been a submission to the inquiry on the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind-Farms by the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs in Australia, to recommend a moratorium be implemented on further wind-farm approvals and construction.

Here, people are naturally concerned, not only for their health, but on the grounds of noise, shadow/flicker, the natural environment and the many protected species within it, the cost, and house-value depreciation. And these huge turbines will be of no benefit whatsoever to the local community.

Michael W Cook

Soulbury, Buckinghamshire

How encouraging to find one of your journalists, Terence Blacker, who does not swallow wholesale the Government's sleight of hand over wind farms. Here in Northumberland we are desperately trying to keep these industrial installations from desecrating our wild spaces.

Wealthy landowners despoiled the land while profiting from coal mines in the 19th century: we now see them profiting again in the 21st. Why not place these huge turbines in the leafy suburbs of the south of England? Or better still, near Westminster, where a plentiful supply of hot air exists?

Dr Margaret Lewis

Hexham, Northumberland

Why banks don't want reform

Sadly, it's not surprising to see the Big Four banks opposing the Independent Banking Commission's reform plans ("Big Four banks line up to oppose ICB's call for retail ring-fencing", 14 July).

Far from making "the financial system more unstable", ring-fencing retail banking would protect consumers from risks taken by the investment arms of banks and thereby avoid the panic that accompanied the start of the recent financial crisis.

HSBC is quite right when it says that ring-fencing is not the panacea to the problems in banking, but it does offer a real chance to remove the implicit taxpayer-backed guarantee that these institutions receive, a guarantee that severely undermines competition in the sector.

Again when facing something they don't like, the banks have wheeled out the tired old threat that any increased costs will be passed on to consumers. Banks have been swelling their margins anyway over the past couple of years; costs to the consumer seem to have less to do with a bank's costs than the lack of competition in the sector.

Peter Vicary-Smith

Chief Executive, Which?, London NW1

Another case for the 'Big Society'?

I have been following the Elaine McDonald case (letters, 14 July). My 92-year-old mother-in-law is blind, profoundly deaf and has dementia and arthritis. She is also incontinent but still has to struggle to get to the commode at night. She lives in her own home and has carers who come three times a day to help her wash, dress, take medication and prepare meals for her.

This service is not by any stretch of the imagination adequate for her needs. There is no provision for a night-time visit. The social care element is provided by Lincolnshire County Council, at relatively little cost. The personal care element she pays for herself. As she has no help at all during the night, I was surprised at the indignation aroused by the case of Ms McDonald, a lady who is not technically incontinent.

Kensington and Chelsea Council have taken the decision to remove this service from Ms McDonald. I have sympathy with her and I deplore any cuts in services to the vulnerable but there are many more people out there with far greater needs.

These needs are not being met and until this government ring-fences local authority budgets for adult social care there will continue to be a huge discrepancy in what individual authorities spend on provision of care for the elderly. Lincolnshire County Council wants to remove all funding for those whose needs are low or moderate.

Can I assume that David Cameron's "Big Society" volunteers are going to rush in and fill the vacuum that should be filled by decently paid and well-trained carers?

Frances Hall

Macclesfield, Cheshire

Time to act

This letter is a reactive response to Ian Kavanagh (letters, 6 July). Had I anticipated his letter's publication and acted in advance, I would have been proactive. I do hope this fascinating correspondence remains active.

Mike Park

London SE9

Cut, and dried

Tim Luckhurst's memory of the drought of 1976 (if he is old enough to have one) is spectacularly inaccurate when he says that Dennis Howell failed to end it (11 July). In fact, the drought was broken within a day or two of his appointment, making him possibly the most successful minister in post-war history.

D W Budworth

London W4

Steady on!

Correspondence about clichés is a barrel of laughs. Rather than let the grass grow under my feet I'll take the bull (literally) by the horns and have my three pennyworth. Hopefully, our new Independent cliché column will go on for ever and a day.

Nicholas E Gough

Swindon, Wiltshire

Clichés? No problem at all.

Michael Franklin


Perspectives on the media

Now investigate the politicians

I very much welcome the inquiry into press behaviour and police corruption; this has been long overdue.

But it seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy for politicians not to be independently investigated as well. For decades, the people we trusted to run the country, create our laws and look after our security have been very heavily influenced by the policies of Rupert Murdoch.

These policies were designed with only two things in mind, the extension of power and influence of Rupert Murdoch, and the increase and protection of his wealth. He's not the only one, either.

Investigating illegal press activities is good and investigating illegal police activities is very important. But independent investigation into the corruption of the people running the country is the most vital. When will that happen? Saying that things will be different "from now on" is not good enough. Surely the Leveson inquiry should cover this aspect as well?

Paul Harper

London E15

All must state their stance on corruption

The Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice (report, 11 July) does not state that newspapers should "not offer, promise or give undue pecuniary or other advantage to public officials ..." The quote is from the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

The guidelines are more advanced than the PCC Code of Practice. Both are voluntary codes. The OECD Guidelines further suggest that companies make "public statements against bribery". If the press is to defend self-regulation, it needs public statements from all media outlets that they will not corrupt public officials.

Deborah King

West Drayton, Middlesex

Sky seems overcast

So Chicken Licken was right! Years ago, I bought a greetings card, which I hung on to in the hope that one day its message might become timely. On the front, a chicken is flapping its wings and crying, "Sky is falling! Sky is falling!". Inside the message reads, "Sell Sky".

Sheila Yarwood

London NW11