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Winds of change

WHOOSH, whoosh, whoosh. Or should that be whump, whump, whump? I'm trying to imagine what life might be like living next door to a wind farm. A few weeks back I put an offer in on a house with splendid views of the Borders countryside. Then I found out a planning application is under consideration for eight 100ft turbines on a hill just a mile away from the dream cottage. Oh, the irony. Having waxed lyrical about renewable energy, there's no way I can object to turbines being put up. So why can't I get the opening sequence of Apocalypse Now out of my head? The slow, repetitive whoosh of helicopters has been translated from Vietnam to rural Roxburghshire. The main cause of the 'Nam flashbacks are the articles I've read about low-frequency noise.

Wind power is the future. But what if the turbines are in your own back yard?

WHOOSH, whoosh, whoosh. Or should that be whump, whump, whump? I'm trying to imagine what life might be like living next door to a wind farm. A few weeks back I put an offer in on a house with splendid views of the Borders countryside. Then I found out a planning application is under consideration for eight 100ft turbines on a hill just a mile away from the dream cottage. Oh, the irony. Having waxed lyrical about renewable energy, there's no way I can object to turbines being put up. So why can't I get the opening sequence of Apocalypse Now out of my head? The slow, repetitive whoosh of helicopters has been translated from Vietnam to rural Roxburghshire.

The main cause of the 'Nam flashbacks are the articles I've read about low-frequency noise. Used by unsavoury regimes as an instrument of torture, it's also seemingly a by-product of living near a wind farm and can lead to depression, headaches and general misery. "Like having a giant cement mixer in the back garden," says one victim. The plummeting property values I can live with - it sounds as though they're going to happen anyway - but noise pollution? I moved to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Wind power is the future. But what if the turbines are in your own back yard?

WHOOSH, whoosh, whoosh. Or should that be whump, whump, whump? I'm trying to imagine what life might be like living next door to a wind farm. A few weeks back I put an offer in on a house with splendid views of the Borders countryside. Then I found out a planning application is under consideration for eight 100ft turbines on a hill just a mile away from the dream cottage. Oh, the irony. Having waxed lyrical about renewable energy, there's no way I can object to turbines being put up. So why can't I get the opening sequence of Apocalypse Now out of my head? The slow, repetitive whoosh of helicopters has been translated from Vietnam to rural Roxburghshire.

The main cause of the 'Nam flashbacks are the articles I've read about low-frequency noise. Used by unsavoury regimes as an instrument of torture, it's also seemingly a by-product of living near a wind farm and can lead to depression, headaches and general misery. "Like having a giant cement mixer in the back garden," says one victim. The plummeting property values I can live with - it sounds as though they're going to happen anyway - but noise pollution? I moved to the country to get away from all that. There was only one thing for it. I sped up the A68 to Soutra, got out of the car and stood by the road listening to the giant turbines. I couldn't hear a thing.

Relieved, I went back to my usual line of "they're so elegant, I can't think why people object to them". According to British Wind Energy, there are 54 operational wind farms in Scotland, with an additional 13 under construction, 48 more with planning permission and 91 in planning. True, there is that small matter of what happens when the wind stops blowing. It is estimated that up to 10% of the UK's energy needs could be met by intermittent energy sources such as wind, but for the other 90% of the time we are reliant on oil, coal, nuclear and so on.

Another criticism is that wind farms are part of a short-sighted gold rush - industry figures show that a two megawatt turbine can generate £500,000 of profit a year (£200,000 from the wholesale markets, £300,000 from taxpayer subsidies). The argument is that by passing wind-farm planning applications, the government stays on track with its renewable energy targets, while unscrupulous developers pounce on the subsidies to the detriment of the landscape. But the profits from wind farms don't have to go to big corporations - on the island of Gigha, the community purchased its own turbines and they are expected to generate £75,000 net profit per annum (www.gigha.org.uk).

All over Scotland, people are objecting to wind farms (objectors call them wind factories). Having sifted through the evidence against my local proposed site, the main objections seem to be that it will dominate the skyline, change the landscape, damage tourism, recreation and the environment. As an alternative, campaigners suggest we reduce energy use and install micro-renewables at home. These are good suggestions, but if the key objection boils down to 'we don't like the way turbines look', is that really good enough?

Certainly, Scotland has plenty of bleak, windswept, uninhabited spots that would seem better suited to wind farms than my local site (which would be slap bang in the middle of long-distance walking, cycle and horse-riding routes, all popular with locals and tourists). But if we're going to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, maybe we'll just have to learn to live with wind turbines (even if it means buying ear plugs). And given the alternatives, wouldn't you rather have a wind factory than any other sort of power plant on your doorstep?

Be greener

Not convinced wind power is the answer? As the bid to build Europe's biggest wind farm on Lewis is thrown out by the planners, visit www.viewsofscotland.org for the evidence against the turbines, and links to your local action groups.

Campaign in favour of wind power. Visit www.yes2wind.com or www.se-alliance.org.uk to find out more.


Source: http://living.scotsman.com/...

APR 27 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/14688-winds-of-change
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