Blow­ing in the wind or wil­ful blind­ness?

In re­ply to an Agenda by Mike MacKen­zie, a MSP for the High­lands and Is­lands re­gion, who ad­vo­cates on­shore wind farms, cam­paigner Christine Met­calfe lists the rea­sons why she be­lieves the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy on wind farms is un­healthy.

The Oban Times - - Agenda -

Those paid to rep­re­sent us have no right to im­pose an en­ergy pol­icy that is harm­ful to our health.

Some read­ers may re­mem­ber MSP Mike McKen­zie’s eu­lo­gis­ing ode to wind en­ergy ti­tled, The an­swer is blow­ing in the wind. So he will be pleased that Loch Awe­side is now be­lea­guered by three huge wind farm ap­pli­ca­tions at var­i­ous stages of plan­ning – Up­per Sonachan (Ecotric­ity); Bal­liemeanoch (Sgurr En­ergy) and Blarghour (Co­ri­o­lis En­ergy). Each will be de­ter­mined by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment due to their sheer scale and size. E.ON in­tend to test wind speeds in In­ver­liever For­est near Dalavich prior to yet an­other ap­pli­ca­tion. Whether more are ‘ wait­ing in the wings’ is as yet un­known.

The wind in­dus­try and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment make ide­alised claims about wind power which in­vite close ex­am­i­na­tion:

De­car­bon­i­sa­tion

UK com­mu­ni­ties out­with Scot­land now have the fi­nal say on whether wind devel­op­ments should pro­ceed. We don’t.

The econ­omy, in­fra­struc­ture, busi­nesses and homes can­not be pow­ered when the wind doesn’t blow or blows too hard; the coun­try needs con­ven­tional power gen­er­a­tion as back-up. Cocken­zie is now be­ing dis­man­teled and Lon­gan­net will fol­low soon, leav­ing two age­ing nu­clear gen­er­a­tors and half a gas plant at Peter­head.

The Na­tional Grid has been forced to in­tro­duce an emer­gency scheme that pays large busi­nesses to cut elec­tric­ity us­age; this had to be im­ple­mented last week and is paid for by fur­ther levies on our en­ergy bills.

In ad­di­tion, as a direct re­sult of our chaotic en­ergy pol­icy, banks of pol­lut­ing diesel gen­er­a­tors have been put in place at costs of up to 50 times av­er­age power prices, again paid by con­sumers. It is es­ti­mated that the costs will be in the re­gion of £463m, with emis­sions of sev­eral mil­lion tonnes of CO2 a year.

Th­ese sub­si­dies also at­tract so­lar de­vel­op­ers who are build­ing diesel gen­er­a­tion on their sites to max­imise their re­turns, com­pound­ing costs to the con­sumer. Very re­cently, due to high winds caus­ing ex­tra en­ergy pro­duc­tion in ex­cess of what the Na­tional Grid could take, Scot­tish wind farms have re­ceived more than £ 5mil­lion so- called ‘con­straint pay­ments’ paid for via a sub­sidy added to con­sumers’ elec­tric­ity bills. Older gen­er­a­tion plants have been utilised to cope with the cri­sis.

Sub­sidy cuts

Dam­age to the econ­omy and job losses are bandied about by the in­dus­try and re­peated by politi­cians.

There is no de­tailed data on ei­ther al­leged ‘loss’. Would the money ac­crued by for­eign de­vel­op­ers stay in the coun­try? Where is the hard, fac­tual, eco­nomic ev­i­dence on jobs – in pre­cisely which sec­tor; full time/part time; which lo­ca­tions? How many

jobs are lost in other in­dus­tries due to high elec­tric­ity costs be­cause of sub­si­dies and green levies on bills, and the covert knockon costs levied from one in­dus­try to an­other? Our steel in­dus­try is fight­ing for its very sur­vival, due in large part to high en­ergy costs, not just cheap Chi­nese steel.

Po­lit­i­cal par­rot­ing of wind in­dus­try fig­ures is com­mon­place and yet In­ver­ness-based Mackay Con­sul­tants re­vealed that elec­tric­ity cus­tomers were ul­ti­mately billed for three times the amount re­quired to help build them.

Health ef­fects

Noise and wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion: De­spite peer re­viewed re­ports of 73 health pro­fes­sional ex­perts and acous­ti­cians world­wide, de­nials about ad­verse health im­pact ev­i­dence al­ready in ex­is­tence and emerg­ing con­tin­ues. Ad­verse ef­fects are well doc­u­mented by many em­i­nent peo­ple around the world, in­clud­ing Mike Stigwood, whose ground-break­ing re­search into am­pli­tude mod­u­la­tion and other noise im­pacts on res­i­dents up to 10km from wind farms pro­vides some of the strong­est sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to date for the true en­vi­ron­men­tal cost of wind farms (http:// scot­land against spin. org /2013/12/ wind-farms-noise- sac­ri­fice-ru­ral-mi­nori­ties-mike-stigwood/). Ef­fects are reg­u­larly re­ported at www.waubrafoun­da­tion.org.au and www.wcfn.org. An alert was sent to the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion to help in­form au­thor­i­ties and mem­bers of the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion about their role in pub­lic pro­tec­tion and hu­man rights is­sues. See www.wind­sofjus­tice.org. uk for this and ac­cess to the Re­quest for Ac­tion on wind power and wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion is­sues. The Aus­tralian Se­nate In­quiry this year lis­tened to hours of tes­ti­mony from wit­nesses who had been ad­versely af­fected by noise, and read hun­dreds of sub­mis­sions be­fore making hard-hit­ting rec­om­men­da­tions.

Safety

If tur­bines are ‘harm­less’, why are they be­ing re­moved from school grounds due to po­ten­tial dan­ger to chil­dren and staff? As tur­bines be­come larger, so metal fatigue be­comes a ma­jor is­sue, and close prox­im­ity to our roads be­comes highly rel­e­vant. See sub­mis­sion 117 to the Aus­tralian Se­nate In­quiry on wind power http:// www.aph. gov. au/ Par­lia­men­tary _ Busi­ness/ Com­mit­tees/Se­nate/ Wind_Tur­bines/ Wind_Tur­bines/Sub­mis­sions

Ben­e­fits/dis­ben­e­fits

Tar­geted farming com­mu­ni­ties are mostly un­aware of dis­ben­e­fits. A re­port at http://fair­winden­ergy.org/ tes­ti­mony.html is one of many global ex­am­ples.

Schools wel­come the in­dus­try speak­ing about the tech­nol­ogy’s ad­van­tages. Is in­for­ma­tion ever given on ad­verse health, en­vi­ron­men­tal or fi­nan­cial ef­fects? Does any­one dis­cuss chil­dren in China hav­ing to grow up in toxic vil­lages to pro­vide heavy met­als for wind tur­bines and other equip­ment? Where is the bal­ance in re­spect of what our chil­dren are led to be­lieve?

A cross-party is­sue at the heart of all present and fu­ture needs should be a ben­e­fi­cial en­ergy pol­icy for our coun­try.

It is pos­si­ble and nec­es­sary to re­tain ba­sic ethics of sup­port­ing the wish to change dam­ag­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal be­hav­iour, while ac­cept­ing that it must be ac­com­pa­nied by a healthy scep­ti­cism on any emerg­ing ques­tion­able dogma, or hi­jack­ing of orig­i­nal prin­ci­ples.

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UN­SPOILT: the view of Loch Avich from

Christine ’s house

Christine Met­calfe Ar­gyll cam­paigner against wind farms

Christine Met­calfe and fel­low wind farm cam­paign­ers.

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