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Wind Farms: An Environmental Disaster?

I’m now known in some circles for my very vocal opposition to wind farms. Inadvertently I became something of a spokesperson (one of many it turns out) for the anti-turbine movement after writing on my blog (and here on The Bickering) about my opposition to the things. When, to my amazement, I saw that there had been more than 1000 views of my initial piece within 48 hours of it going live, I realised that this was no minor issue and that a whole load of people all over the world were very worried about the march of wind farms across our rural landscapes.

So it seems fitting that, as it is probably my biggest bugbear, I have another little rant about it all on here again, this being ‘the place to rant’.

To many people, it comes as a surprise when I tell them how environmentally unfriendly wind farms are. The very terminology is deceptive, the word ‘farm’ conjuring up something wholesome and countryside-friendly when in fact these installations bring in their wake environmental devastation.

‘Green’ energy companies would have you believe that wind farms generate substantial amounts of renewable energy and that they are a positive boon for the environment and our struggling planet.

This is not true. Let me, if I may, explain why I have a problem with them.

The very manufacture and installation of many wind turbines results in contamination of natural environments both here and overseas. Minerals known collectively as ‘rare earth’ are used in the production of many turbines (as well as in mobile phones, electric cars and other technological goods).

The factories that process these minerals are primarily in Mongolia and China and in those countries, where once there were green fields and waterways teeming with life, there are now toxic wastelands and lakes filled with poisons and radioactive materials, by-products of the manufacturing processes.

Then there is the installation of the turbines themselves. Large amounts of concrete and steel are required both at the sites of land-based wind farms and those out at sea.

The impact on wildlife cannot be underestimated either. Huge numbers of birds and bats are killed directly by wind farms, many of them rare and endangered species. Millions of birds are killed when they collide with the enormous blades, which move at high speeds (in spite of the turbines’ propellers appearing to be gracefully slow from a distance). The number of bats killed by onshore farms in the UK alone has been estimated at a whopping 80,000 every year. Bats are a protected species in the UK, though with fatality figures like that it is hard to believe.

There is also some evidence that marine mammals are being affected by the turbines.

Many Sperm Whales have been stranded on English, German and Dutch beaches where they perished….this in an area with the highest concentration of wind turbines. Co-incidence? Probably not. Their finely tuned navigation and communication systems might be compromised by the sounds emanating from vast banks of offshore turbines.

And people and communities living in the shadow of the wind farms all over the world are desperately distressed by the noise and negative environmental effects these things bring with them.

Personally, my biggest issue with them, aside from all of the above, is the effect they have on our rural landscapes and around the coasts where they dominate the view. Those without a spiritual or artistic bent might consider this an acceptable blight but we all need the rural outdoors, the open spaces and the endless horizons whether we choose to believe it or not. Since time began, mankind has craved the peace and tranquillity that such places bring. It is an entirely natural and essential requirement to be able to experience such places in order to reassess life, rebalance the mind and soul and calm the spirit. And especially in these testing times. To some, this may sound like new age mumbo jumbo but it really isn’t. One day each one of us will need to find such a place, unspoilt by mans’ desecration, where nature can take control and provide solace and comfort.

With nearly 1000 wind farms (that’s collections of turbines, estimated to be 7,800 individual turbines) in operation or planned here in the UK alone, perhaps the damage is already done. But I still object to the misleading marketing of the green energy companies who are peddling environmentally friendly energy when, with all the destruction and pollution wind farms produce in both manufacture and placement, it simply isn’t.

Not green. Not clean.