Polly Toynbee, the Guardian columnist and regular attacker of everything Tory, today makes a scathing attack on the government “effectively abolishing” on-shore wind energy.
Just as onshore wind becomes the cheapest renewable energy source, the Conservatives have committed to effectively abolishing it: their manifesto will pledge to remove subsidies, jeopardising future investment and rural jobs. Small local nimby groups find Pickles ever-eager to block windfarms in their back yards. That’s despite overwhelming public support, where poll after poll finds two thirds are in favour of onshore windfarms, including in their own districts, surprisingly resistant to the vigorous climate-change denial and anti-windfarm campaign by the Conservatives and their press.
Her ire is directed in particular at the refusal of permission for Ecotricity (I wrote about their involvement in wave energy yesterday) for a small wind farm close to the motorway north of Bridgwater, Somerset.
Cameron was once a supporter of wind energy. Toynbee believes the great game changer has been the arrival of UKIP. I suspect they would have done the same thing all on their own with a little pushing from some “countryside” campaigners.
I think she is right that opposition, even in the countryside, is limited. I have heard little complaint about the four large turbines that have gone up at Eye airfield industrial estate not far from where I live. When I drive north I see them in the same view as the medieval church tower: it remains a lovely view.
Would the people who are now opposing wind farms have objected to corn mills and fenland wind pumps in the past? There is little logic in their thinking. The countryside is and always has been an industrial landscape changing to produce the food that was required by towns, the wood to fuel fires and tallow for candles to light homes.
Wind turbines are simply a new way in which the countryside continues to do its traditional job. And I think they look good too.
Later: Wind farms generated more electricity than nuclear plants yesterday according to a BBC report.