Monuments to Idiocracy



To some they are harbingers of a future where energy is free, limitless and clean but to others they are a blot on the landscape, inefficient and unreliable as well as a detriment to the well-being of those in whose proximity they are erected. I am of course talking about wind turbines, a subject which arouses strong feelings amongst people across the Penistone area.


Like giant alien machines in a bad science-fiction film, the advance guard landed on Royd Moor some time ago and since then with mushroom like fertility they have spread to Crow Edge, Spicer Hill and Blackstone Edge with their smaller cousins springing up at every turn. Will there ever be an end to this plague? People ask. What have we done to deserve this?


Far from producing free and clean electricity, turbines only work when the wind speed falls within certain parameters. At other times the electricity they do not produce must be supplied from the grid which means conventional power stations being kept online.


Turbines are anything but friendly to the environment of nearby residents who suffer noise and the effects of infra-sound, so called Wind Turbine Syndrome, as well as strobing and shadow flicker. There is the risk of structural failure as happened during the gales last January when sections of a broken blade were flung across a road and embedded themselves in a dry stone wall. Migratory birds and bats are at risk with the latter flying into the blades when their navigation systems confuse the motion with that of prey and some people report that their horses are spooked when in close proximity.


The countryside around Penistone is some of the most spectacular in England and the impact of wind farms should not be underestimated. One observation frequently made about the most recent and largest edifices is that they are bigger than people expected. This is hardly surprising as the photomontages provided with planning applications are cleverly constructed to make them appear small by using lenses of very short focal length which give a wide angle of view, (75 or 90 deg.), far wider than the average camera.


With logic and reason against it why persist with the current fashion for wind energy? To understand this we have to look at the Renewables Obligation and the feed-in tariff, the subsidy mechanism whereby turbine operators are paid more than market rate for electricity which in turn is added to all our bills. Like many other bizarre practices this had its genesis in EU Directives aimed at reducing CO2 emissions and could only have been conceived by the same towering intellects which decided that a single currency would work for a range of widely differing economies. Future generations will gaze in wonder at both as monuments to idiocracy!

First published by the Barnsley Chronicle - Penistone in Particular - November 2012  

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