UK Wind energy has taken what can only be described as a potentially fatal blow in recent weeks, mostly due to our fancy new and obviously yet to adjust himself Energy Minister John Hayes, who slammed the industry in a poorly veiled release of emotion to various newspapers and public arenas.
His view brings to light issues which many of us were deeply worried about when he took position as the senior governmental minister presiding over energy matters, those pertaining to renewable energy and in particular wind farms, both on and offshore. He was well known for his relatively open anti-wind stance years before his new job was offered, but plenty hoped this rather large crease had been ironed out in the process of waking up and smelling the climate coffee. Apparently not.
John Hayes is a believer of many things wholeheartedly and affectionately, including things like gas, nuclear and domestic offshore drilling, but not of a future where the UK is ‘peppered’ with detestable wind farms ruining ‘this green and pleasant land’ to which he has taken it upon himself to be the guardian of. It is pretty certain that the UK will meet and possibly even exceed its wind deployment targets for 2015 and 2020, and we could undoubtedly carry on far beyond these ageing goals and continue to lead Europe in the generation of purely wind powered electricity, but Hayes doesn’t want that. His view: ‘enough is enough’ on the wind front; we’re going to reach our goals and therefore we should stop blighting the landscape with the bloody things. Because that will solve climate change won’t it John.
Aside from his complete ignorance and obvious political gaming on this subject, in the face of a shambolic energy policy, Hayes did raise one important point, albeit a painful one [for me at least] to come to terms with. If wind is to be deployed on any greater scale then it currently is, investigation and surveying into the impacts on communities must be taken more seriously than it is now for them to come to accept turbines in their backyard.
I personally feel that he said this to simply placate the environmentalists and wind industries out there who may be more angered than most if he had just outright stated his genuine dislike for the technology, but it can be read in another, more rational way.
We are a nation of ‘NIMBY’; we hate to have what is left of our humble British landscape marred by a dirty great wind turbine in our ‘backyard’ or a farm miles offshore polluting our view of the abundant shipping lanes, and this is precisely the reason why the industry hasn’t exploded like it should have done years ago. The UK is a windy place, and a consistently windy place at that, and a lot of the regions where the gusts hit the highest speeds, very little tends to exist, even if that may be due to constraints with the topography; think Scottish highlands and you’ll get this gist.