How wind farms turned me into a nimby

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

Sara Mait­land con­sid­ers the term ‘nimby’ – and ad­mits that a glut of wind­farms has turned her into one.

Nimby – the fa­mous and rather cun­ning acro­nym for “not in my back yard” – is one of those terms that’s al­ways pe­jo­ra­tive. You are a nimby; I, how­ever, am a con­ser­va­tion­ist/ nat­u­ral­ist/ tra­di­tion­al­ist.

I say “cun­ning” be­cause it’s both a clever, even witty, ne­ol­o­gism and it sounds fab­u­lously sneer­ing. It goes very nicely with nam­by­pamby, wimpy, sissy and other nurs­ery-school abuse.

It ap­plies to peo­ple who sup­pos­edly want de­vel­op­ments such as clean power, im­proved in­fra­struc­ture and af­ford­able homes, but who want them at no cost to their own sen­si­bil­i­ties. They want the power sta­tions, trans­port links and more hous­ing, but some­where else, in some­one else’s back yard.

Well, I have en­coun­tered my own in­ner nimby and it was wind farms that did it for me.


When I came to live in Dum­fries and Gal­loway 10 years ago, there was one wind farm about eight miles away that had nine tur­bines. I did some re­search and there were no plans for any more. But now there are over 100 tur­bines, all within a mile of my house.

There is nowhere in my gar­den that of­fers a view free from tur­bines and at least an­other 28 are due to be built in the next cou­ple of years. It feels like too many, frankly, even though I con­tinue to be­lieve in wind­gen­er­ated power. It seems I have be­come an unashamed nimby.

Most of th­ese tur­bines have been con­tested by the lo­cals and in­creas­ingly re­jected by the re­gional coun­cil. The would-be de­vel­oper then ap­peals to the Scottish Govern­ment, which over­rules both the coun­cil plan­ning of­fice and the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. So peo­ple who may never have been in this val­ley, or even in this re­gion, who may never have seen a wind farm in their lives, get to de­cide what I should have to see.

This sit­u­a­tion is un­nec­es­sary. When the Scottish Par­lia­ment made its bold de­ci­sion to gen­er­ate 100% of Scot­land’s elec­tric­ity us­ing fos­sil-free tech­nolo­gies by 2020, it could have re­quired spe­cific pro­duc­tion quo­tas from each re­gion and left the ques­tions of where and how to gen­er­ate the power to lo­cal man­age­ment.

The real prob­lem, how­ever, is the to­tal fail­ure of cen­tral govern­ment to have any po­lit­i­cal vi­sion for the coun­try­side. About 17% of the UK pop­u­la­tion lives in ru­ral ar­eas, which is quite a lot of peo­ple to ig­nore.


Sta­tis­ti­cally, peo­ple in the coun­try­side tend to be older, less well paid and less ser­viced than ur­ban res­i­dents. Who in a city would tol­er­ate hav­ing no refuse col­lec­tion; no broad­band; min­i­mal, if any, public trans­port; and pri­mary schools that are lit­er­ally hours away? Also, peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas pay ex­tra for fuel de­spite need­ing it more. And too many houses in too many com­mu­ni­ties are empty most nights be­cause the peo­ple who own them don’t live in them per­ma­nently. Far from be­ing “over­crowded” or “swamped by im­mi­grants”, we are un­der­pop­u­lated.

None of th­ese is­sues were men­tioned dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tion. Ev­ery­one claims to love the Bri­tish coun­try­side, but if it were a child, most UK cit­i­zens would be in court for ne­glect. Peo­ple who live in the coun­try­side have spe­cific is­sues that the po­lit­i­cal ma­chine doesn’t seem to ad­dress, so is it any won­der that we tend to be nim­bies? We are try­ing to pro­tect what we have, while be­ing ig­nored, un­sup­ported and un­der­mined.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Lynn Hatz­ius

Sara Mait­land is a writer who lives in Dum­fries and Gal­loway. Her works in­clude A Book of Si­lence and Gos­sip from the For­est.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.