Bird-crunching, bat-chomping menaces
I hope this photograph give you a good idea of why every summer for the last 12 years I have taken my family on holiday to mid-Wales, for me one of the most beautiful and special places on the planet. Its all the better for being so little known. You can go for a walk on those magnificent uplands at the peak of the tourist season and glimpse barely another soul. Note too, how completely unspoilt it is. But for how much longer?
This is why I have just signed the petition No To The Industrialisation of Mid-Wales and why Im wishing the very best to the protestors wholl be gathering at a rally outside the Welsh assembly this Tuesday to voice their outrage at the destruction of their countryside in which their elected representatives in Cardiff disgracefully connived. It was back in 2005 that Cardiff’s joke quasi-parliamentary assembly of clownish second-raters otherwise known as AMs voted for huge swathes of the Principality to be covered in wind farms. But its only now that people have started to catch up with the environmental havoc this is going to wreak. (H/T Mike Blood who runs the Conservation of Upland Powys Facebook page, which deserves our support).
The wind farms are bad enough on their own. But to make matters far worse, as Christopher Booker reports, in order for these bird-crunching, bat-chomping, view-blighting, rent-seeking monstrosities to be connected to the grid a huge 400kv power line is going to be constructed all the way from Montgomeryshire through some of Britains most spectacular scenery to the equally beauteous Shropshire. Its not just happening in Wales, of course. Alex Salmond is wreaking similar havoc in Scotland. Cumbria is under threat; so is the Kent Weald; so are the Mendips; so is the Isle of Wight; so are dozens of other beauty spots: first will come the wind farms themselves, with their vast concrete bases; then the power lines, over 300 miles worth, 160feet high.
Its one of those subjects that makes me so upset it leaves me almost lost for words. Ours is going to be the generation forced to witness the most grotesque act of vandalism ever committed against the British countryside and what makes it so much more painful is that there is no reasonable justification for it whatsoever. From wind farms to solar arrays to biofuels, Britain is committing both economic and aesthetic suicide. Even if one were to believe the discredited theory that CO2 is a dangerous driver of climate change, even then the argument for wind farms wouldnt wash because being so unreliable and sporadic in their power generation they replace not one single conventional power station.
The sheer madness of Britains energy policy is beautifully captured by Matt Ridley in this must-read Spectator article.
Welcome to the neo-medieval world of Britain’s energy policy. It is a world in which Highland glens are buzzing with bulldozers damming streams for miniature hydro plants, in which the Dogger Bank is to be dotted with windmills at Brobdingnagian expense, in which Heathrow is to burn wood trucked in from Surrey, and Yorkshire wheat is being turned into motor fuel. We are going back to using the landscape to generate our energy. Bad news for the landscape.
The industrial revolution, when Britain turned to coal for its energy, not only catapulted us into prosperity (because coal proved cheaper and more reliable than wood, wind, water and horse as a means of turning machines), but saved our landscape too. Forests grew back and rivers returned to their natural beds when their energy was no longer needed. Land that had once grown hay for millions of horses could grow food for human beings instead — or become parks and gardens.
Whether we like it or not, we are now reversing this policy, only with six times the population and a hundred times the energy needs. The government’s craven decision this week to placate the green pressure groups by agreeing a unilateral and tough new carbon rationing target of 50 per cent for 2027 — they wanted to water it down, but were frightened of being taken to judicial review by Greenpeace — condemns Britain to ruining yet more of its landscape. Remember that it takes a wind farm the size of Greater London to generate as much electricity as a single coal-fired power station — on a windy day (on other days we will have to do without). Or the felling of a forest twice the size of Cumbria every year.
Why is this madness happening? Why is nobody in a position of power or influence save the odd brave soul such as Glyn Davies, Tory MP for Montgomeryshire doing something to stop it before its too late?
Simple: its because the very environmentalists who ought to be campaigning against such wanton destruction have instead been responsible for fostering the warped thinking, junk science, and knee-jerk anti-capitalism which made it possible.
Consider George Monbiot: the man lives in Machllyneth, just down the road from the wind farm development, for Gods sake, yet here is as far as he is prepared to go in his Komment Macht Frei column on the subject:
Three conclusions seem obvious. Unless the new powerlines are buried, the renewables programme will stall: underground cables must become a firm green demand, though they will add significantly to the cost. Even so, its now clear that theres a limit to how much more renewable power can be deployed before it clatters into a mountain of public opposition. This is one of the reasons why we should start considering other options for decarbonising the electricity supply: especially new nuclear technologies such as thorium, integral fast reactors or travelling wave reactors.
Do you see the pusillanimity and muddled thinking, here? He has neither the intellectual lucidity nor the moral courage actively to oppose this utterly pointless desecration of his local landscape. All he can manage is an unrealistic demand that the powerlines be buried (aint gonna happen: renewables are expensive enough already), followed by a tacit admission that his most serious objection to renewables is not that theyre expensive, environmentally destructive and dont work, but merely that they are likely to generate a climate of public resentment towards decarbonisation.
And what about the Prince of Wales? Where is he in all this? Doesnt he have some connection or other with Wales and her people? Isnt that why, er, he went through that ceremony at Caernarfon in 1969? Isnt there something in his current title I forget which, though Im sure sharper-witted readers will be able to remind me that suggests a special concern for Wales might be part of his job?
Yet what does the man have to say about the most grotesque crime committed by Big Government against the Welsh people since Llewellyn Ap Gruffydd? What efforts has this famed floral conversationist, this defender of old-school values, this ex-foxhunting, stalking-about-the-Highland-Glens-with-his-crooked-stick countryman made to prevent a 100 square mile stretch of Britains most glorious countryside being transformed into a sterile Golgotha of wind towers?
Zip. Nada. Nothing.
Or as they say in Welsh (and I must say the word does seem peculiarly apt where our future King is concerned):
- What did our grandchildren do to deserve the Prince of Wales?
- Why the Prince of Wales’s letters shouldn’t be kept secret
- WTF? Prince of Wales tells disgraced CRU: ‘Well done, all of you!’
- Prince of Wales to give up his Aston Martin, two Jags, two Audis and Range Rover to save planet. Not.