“How the hell did we let that happen?” we often ask ourselves when we look at the brutalist monstrosity tower blocks which we allowed to blight our towns in the sixties. In a few decades’ time we’re going to be asking exactly the same question about the 300 foot wind turbines ruining what’s left of Britain’s wilderness.
And a bit like the perpetrators of terrible sixties architecture now, no one’s going to be able to come up with a satisfactory answer because, quite simply, there isn’t one: wind turbines are a bad idea in almost every way imaginable.
They don’t work when there’s no wind.
They don’t work when it’s too windy.
They produce so little power – and so unreliably and erratically – that even if you put one on every hill top in Britain you’d still need to rely on nuclear, coal and gas-generated electricity for your main source of energy.
They chew up flying wildlife and scare horses.
They produce a subsonic hum which drives you mad if you’re downwind of them.
They turn pristine landscape into Teletubby-style horror visions.
They destroy property values.
They steal light.
They’re visible for miles around so that just when you’re thinking you’ve got away from it all you’re reminded of man’s grim presence by the whirling white shapes on the horizon.
They’re environmentally damaging: their massive concrete bases alone requiring enough concrete to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools; then there’s the access roads that have to be built through the unspoilt landscape to put them up in the first place.
They’re twice as expensive as conventionally-produced electricity.
They make you feel a bit queasy, especially the three-bladed ones whose asymmetry is disturbing.
To supply the equivalent output of one nuclear power station you’d need a wind farm the size of Greater Manchester.
When I wrote all this a couple of years ago in How To Be Right, my polemical A to Z of everything wrong with Blair’s and Brown’s Britain, I did think I was erring slightly towards the Dystopian.
The “wind turbines” entry was more of a warning of the awful things that could go wrong if the more extreme eco-nutters got their way and the government completely lost its head. Not even in my darkest moments did I imagine that this nightmare vision would come true.
Why? Well, apart from anything else, because the British landscape is our greatest asset, the thing that makes so proud to have been born here and to live here. In July, I’ll be walking with my family in the near-deserted hills of the Welsh Borders; in late August, I’ll be in Scotland wandering amid the purple heather of the Highlands; in October, the coastal path round Prawle Point and Bolt Head. I love swimming in burns, rock pools, rivers, beneath waterfalls, in the sea off South Dorset. I count it one of my greatest privileges to have been hunting over the stone walls of the Cotswolds and the steep valleys of Exmoor. Few things make me happier or more glad to be alive than the joy that so much of our countryside remains so pristine and stunningly beautiful.
And now, in the name of environmentalism, to serve a cause – CO2 reduction – that will not make the blindest bit of difference to global climate, our Government is destroy this landscape.
Well I suppose they would. They’re Labour and they’ve never really understood the country in the way the Conservatives do.
Or rather, the way the Conservatives did. For, it would seem judging from the comments of Tory environment spokesman Greg Clark that the Conservatives now hate our countryside just as much as Labour does.
To me, it quite beggars belief that a party led by an ex-hunting man representing as beautiful a rural seat as Witney should yet fail to take a stand on this, the gravest environmental threat to Britain in our lifetime. Wind farms are a disaster and an act of lunacy. If the Tories refuse to take a stand against them, they most definitely do not deserve our vote.