Letters: Wind power: climate and landscape in conflict


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The Independent Online

How good to see the public coming out in favour of wind turbines ("Build more turbines: poll shows public wants wind farms", 4 June). Having seen some of the latest figures from climate scientists, I despaired at the thought of our green and pleasant land being destroyed by climate change simply because of people wishing to preserve the view.

Action on climate change is urgently needed. Of the options for renewable energy, turbines can be put in place now, not in the next 15 or 20 years, which would do little to prevent catastrophic global warming.

Lesley Docksey

Buckland Newton, Dorset

Your front-page headline "Build more turbines" shows how successful the wind-power lobby has been in its propaganda campaign to persuade the public that wind turbine developments are necessary to combat climate change.

If wind power really was a panacea for our climate ills, maybe it would be worth the sacrifice of some of our most cherished landscapes. But it isn't.

Using figures from the wind industry itself, even if every nation in the world decided that, say, just a sixth of future energy generation should be produced from wind sources by 2035, and there was world agreement on stabilising annual energy usage at say 30 terawatts globally in the future (which would require most developed countries to considerably reduce demand but allow developing countries a modest increase), it would still require a full-sized 3MW turbine to be built every three minutes starting right now for 25 years. About 2 per cent of the entire land surface of the world would end up being covered with wind turbines.

And yet that would still leave over 80 per cent of our energy needs to be filled, most likely by old-fashioned fossil fuels and nuclear.

Colin Wells

Hope, Derbyshire

Dr Robin Russell-Jones (letter, 5 June) is wrong to say that CPRE's "opposition" to wind turbines is "becoming irrationally anti-environmental".

Onshore wind poses a genuinely difficult challenge to those who want to tackle climate change but also want to prevent unacceptable damage to our beautiful countryside. As your Environment Editor Michael McCarthy says ("Ghastly, lethal to birds – but a necessary evil", 4 June), this is an issue "where both sides have right on their side".

Within CPRE we are having a serious debate about the role of onshore wind and how we can ensure that, in McCarthy's words, "turbines only go in the appropriate place". It would be good if that debate could take place more widely.

Instead we have a policy framework that gives precious little guidance on the right and wrong places for onshore wind. The consequence is that energy companies and landowners take a punt on local authorities and planning inspectors deciding that national targets trump concerns about heritage or landscape. Local communities faced with giant wind turbines in much- loved countryside feel increasingly powerless, and the growing backlash against onshore wind risks undermining other necessary action to tackle climate change.

Shaun Spiers

Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England, London SE1

I found the headline on Michael McCarthy's article ("Ghastly, lethal to birds – but a necessary evil", 4 June) disappointing.

Are wind turbines generators (WTGs) lethal to birds? Absolutely; they are responsible for approximately 30,000 bird deaths each year. However, approximately 27 million are killed each year by domestic cats (according to the RSPB); and the number killed by cars and through collisions with plate glass dwarfs those killed by WTGs.

Further, studies have shown that per unit of electricity generated, fossil-fuel generation is 13 times more deadly to birds than that generated by wind turbines.

Mike Comiskey

Vattenfall Wind Power Ltd UK

London EC4

Carrying an Olympic torch for Samsung

Tom Peck (5 June) quotes Boris Johnson on the Olympics: "What we are doing is taking the power away from the politicians, from the officials and from the fat cats and giving it to the people, to everyone." So I was interested to see who has been nominated to carry the Olympic Torch through our local towns.

Twelve people have been nominated to carry the flame through Bognor Regis. Only one names Bognor as their home town. Two of the 12 list Schwalbach and Cologne in Germany. It turns out they are employees of Samsung GmbH.

As Peck makes clear, this shouldn't come as a surprise, because although the London 2012 web site states that "8,000 inspirational people will carry the Olympic Flame as it journeys across the UK. Nominated by someone they know, it will be their moment to shine, inspiring millions of people watching in their community, in the UK and worldwide", it also tells us that "Olympic Torch relay presenting partners Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung also held their own nomination campaigns."

I have no doubt that Klaus and Dirk are held in high estimation by their work colleagues, but surely Bognor Regis residents would gain more from seeing "inspirational people" carrying the Olympic Flame whom they actually know.

Terry Mahoney

Chichester, West Sussex

Having been disappointed at only receiving two tickets for the handball at the Olympics, despite applying for many other events, I had resigned myself to watching the Games on television. I was looking forward to doing this with the help of the London 2012 Olympic Games Official Programme (£10) which I ordered at the same time as my ill-fated first ticket application, the "success" of which excluded me from applying for later releases.

Imagine my surprise to find that this glossy production seems to have omitted any detailed timetable of events. Sebastian Coe and Locog should be ashamed of themselves rather than bragging of their achievements in this overpriced production mainly aimed at plugging their sponsors' wares.

Patrick Walsh

Eastbourne, East Sussex

The LSO has a unique opportunity to show the same level of moral leadership that this great institution already demonstrates musically. Mime at the Olympic opening ceremony and become the 2012 comedy spot (to be followed by years of lampooning in the media) or walk away, which will almost certainly get them the required sound system or, if not, the longest and loudest ovation of their distinguished history for standing up to the breathtaking arrogance of Locog.

Adrian Gilpin

Tunbridge Wells

Clashes in the Caucasus

I hope Adrian Pont is simply unaware of the cruel irony in his words about "the aggressive attitude of Azerbaijan towards ... Armenia" (Letters, 1 June).

It is exactly 20 years since Armenia achieved military control of over a quarter of Azerbaijan's territory, in and around the Nagorno-Karabagh region. I was working in Baku at the time, and the incompetence of Azerbaijan's soldiers was a standing joke among the small number of westerners resident there.

Later in 1993 this military disaster led to the seizure of power by Gaidar Aliyev, a former associate of Brezhnev's in Moscow. In 1994 a ceasefire was agreed and Armenia held on to its military gains. Since then nothing much has changed: Aliyev's dictatorial ways continued after his son Ilham succeeded him, but they did not end the occupation.

"This part of Armenia is ethnically Armenian and the inhabitants are Christian and speak Armenian", wrote Dr Pont. "So what?" one may ask: aggression across a border is wrong, whoever may live on the other side.

This is another of the "frozen conflicts" left behind by the break-up of the USSR. Let me join Dr Pont in earnestly hoping that the rule of law will soon prevail – and Armenia will end its 20-year occupation of its neighbour's land.

Tom Lines


Unrelenting effort of a small business

I cannot believe that Alan Collins (Letters, 7 June) has ever run his own small business, or he would know that it is an unrelenting, time-consuming affair.

My business partner and I are at work every day (including weekends) often an hour before and an hour after all our employees, dealing with administration, buying, payroll and all the other tasks that a business entails. We are proud to employ 10-plus people and to pay them a decent wage so they can live and provide for their families, and proud of all the other small businesses that do the same.

Yes, we pay ourselves more than our employees but make no apologies for that. Mr Collins should come down from his ivory tower and apologise for such an unfair remark about his pupil's father and the rest of the small-business world.

Philip Edwards

Aldershot, Hampshire

In brief...

Presidential potential

Pro-monarchists trying to frighten republicans with visions of Presidents Blair or Clarkson really should move with the times. These are the days of (hypothetical) equal rights for men and women, the era of unisex. Given the crowned precedent of William and Mary, think of the Presidents Beckham.

Peter Forster

London N4

How many countries would have allowed an anti-monarchy demonstration on such an important state occasion as the Queen's jubilee? I think we should celebrate the stability and tolerance the Queen has helped to bring to this country.

Juliet Barnett

Enfield, Middlesex

Role of 'izzat' in forced marriage

Joan Smith's assertion that at the heart of all forced marriages is the issue of control (Opinion, 8 June), misses the vital fact that izzat drives this need for control among Asian families. Izzat – or honour or reputation – of a person or family is seen to be diminished if a woman or man loses their virginity before marriage. This fact drives some Asian families to force their children into marriage once they reach puberty. Forced marriages will stop once the Asian community agrees that sex before marriage and izzat are not connected.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

Don't stereotype the elderly

I'm astonished at use in a leading article of "people well past their prime" as a synonym for "older people" ("Pensioners' benefits cannot be untouchable", 8 June). Why the offensive stereotype?

Dr Alex May


Dastardly French

David Hewitt (letter, 8 June) asks why, despite drinking more wine than we do, the French still live longer than us. My view is that it's probably to irritate us.

William Roberts


What is an issue?

Beverley Southgate reminds us (letter, 8 June) that problems other than "issues" are called "challenges". Surely these are "opportunities for reform"?

Chris Webster