James Delingpole

We must act now to save our country from the scourge of wind turbines

15 December 2012

The place I love more than anywhere on earth is the Edw Valley in mid-Wales. We’ve been going there every summer for more than a decade now and the kids think of it as their second home. When I die — as I nearly did once, you’ll remember, when I was carried off down the River Edw in full spate only to be rescued by an overhanging branch — you’ll find engraved in my heart the name of the hamlet where we stay. Cregrina. It’s our garden of Eden.

In the evenings, long after the valley has descended into shadow, the moors on the humpbacked hills are still bathed in golden light and every time I look at them I think of the Churchillian sunlit uplands whose prospect gave us hope in our darkest hour. Often as not, I’ll have been up there myself earlier in the day, among the heather and bilberries and occasional grouse, looking across towards the bleakness of Hay Bluff and the Brecon Beacons on one side and on the other down towards the white blob of ‘our’ house amid lush, knobbly, sheep-dotted country redolent of The Shire.

But every time I’ve looked at those views for the last few years, my joy has been tinged with melancholy. ‘How long will it be?’ I’ve wondered to myself. ‘How long?’

And now I have my answer. It has happened.

Claim your gift

By ‘it’, of course, I mean the arrival of the first wind turbine. They’ve put it up in Rhulen, whose simple whitewashed 13th-century church is one of the oldest and prettiest in Radnorshire. Not, clearly, that that made any difference to the planners who pushed it through. Any more, apparently, than the special quality of the landscape did. Local objection, I gather, was fierce, but due to a procedural technicality which barred the chairman of Aberedw parish council from speaking, the planning council never got to hear of this. ‘Well, we have turned down a number of these single turbine applications, I suppose we had better let this one pass,’ one of the planning officials was heard to say. And with that the Edw Valley’s death warrant was sealed.

The auguries were there last summer. I remember driving up towards Aberedw for our favourite walk — past the cave where Llewellyn hid before he was finally captured, hung, drawn and quartered at Builth Wells — and being struck by how many ‘For Sale’ signs there were. At the time I put this down to the pressure of the recession — straitened families selling their second homes. But it wasn’t that at all, I now realise. They’d twigged which way the wind was blowing — and were now trying to get out while they still could.

As any rural estate agent will privately tell you, nothing devastates property values quite like a wind farm. Though the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors still spews its nonsense that the issue is moot, the hard evidence suggests that a nearby turbine will render your home almost impossible to sell — except at the most enormous, fire-sale discount.

But it’s not just homeowners whose nest-egg the wind industry destroys without recompense (unlike in Denmark, where compensation must be paid), it’s all those ordinary people struggling to make a living in the rural economy. The holiday rentals; the bed and breakfasts; the pony-trekking stables; the cottage industries; those farmers who still actually want to farm rather than just milk subsidies. One old lady in the valley, who runs a B&B catering for long-distance riders, has been hospitalised with stress over fears of the effects this turbine will have on her business. Her fears are all too well-founded.

The man on whose land the turbine has been built, I gather, is a popular local figure. Not when the effects of his actions are properly understood, he won’t be. Sure, one or two of his farmer neighbours will thank him for turning this once idyllic, utterly unspoilt valley into a semi-industrial zone: now, they too will be able to get their snouts in the subsidy-farming trough by applying for wind turbines of their own. But for the region as a whole, the effects will be devastating.

Some people say: ‘Well, you can hardly blame such and such for putting up that wind turbine. With those fat subsidies, it makes so much sense.’ But I disagree. Yes — we’d all like the idea of being paid £30,000 or more, (per turbine, per year, index linked for 25 years) in return for doing absolutely sod all. Some of us, though, have a moral core.

No more would I trade in blood diamonds or child pornography than I would accept money in any shape or form from Big Wind. The time is long since past when anyone complicit in this vile, corrupt, mendacious industry — not the lawyers, not the engineers, not the land agents, not the investors — could be unaware of the damage it does: to the landscape, to rural communities, to wildlife, to people’s health, to the economy generally.

I wish each and every one of those scuzz-balls the very unmerriest of Christmases. And I pray and hope that in the New Year, the real Conservatives in our coalition will take a moral stand and finally put paid to the menace that is destroying our beautiful country. Time is running out. We need to act now.

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Show comments
  • me

    Act how? The bastards just keep destroying our country for greed, under cover of fake green motives.

    • Vindpust

      We can start at next year’s local elections – we all know who is responsible locally for encouraging the tide of Green totems – kick ’em out!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenny.keal Jenny Keal

    Another great offering James, and as you know, this time it is a very personal heartfelt thanks for highlighting the destruction of the place where I live. I’ve lived in Aberedw for 17 years and I remember when we first viewed the house we now live in that I was so happy that I was crying because we had found our piece of heaven on earth. The landscape here is breathtaking as you have so eloquently described. The thought we could soon be surrounded by an industrial wind factory is a physical pain in my chest and until the subsidies are withdrawn entirely and this whole criminal scam is stopped I will not rest easy. No peaceful retirement for me then?

  • Linda Holt

    What you describe applies to countless cherished landscapes across England and Scotland too. Thank you for highlighting how this is a moral issue. There should be a roll of shame for everyone profiting from this disgusting industry – including all those “I’m just a poor honest farmer” types.

  • Mary Young

    I enjoy all of your articles,James, particularly those which are at their most trenchant. This one, however, has raised your writing, on the subject of wind turbines, to a new level – it is personal; it is sad; it resonates with all of us who continue to fight for landscapes, communities, individual people, wildlife; even a nominal notion of earth jurisprudence

  • Richard Evans

    How many more blighted lives and landscapes must it take before the govt sees sense and stops all onshore development before the full effects on property and people are understood? It’s bad enough that the landscape of Wales was despoiled for coal; that wrong has now largely been righted. But to have these monsterous white blades in the place of the tips is a step too far.

  • briefly

    You know what? I like them. Beautiful. Graceful. At ease with this green and pleasant land. Damn sight more so than pylons. Welcome to the future, James.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Graham/1501521580 John Graham

      Everyone is entitled to a view but I have never found anyone who has to put up with the noise and shadow flicker refer to them as Graceful or Beautiful. There is a good saying that while one turbine may be a kinetic sculpture, hundreds are visual pollution!

    • Linda Holt

      For heavens’sake. The vast majority of people who like turbines for aesthetic reasons have only ever experienced them in beautifully composed propaganda photos or as they sail past distance turbines in their cars. Get out of your car, spend time near turbines, notice what is happening to the countryside – noise, flicker, vibration, animals driven away, everything disturbed and denatured as out-of-scale industrial structures which move continually and unevenly dominate as focal points. Pylons are awful too – especially the thousands of massive ones that are coming if this wind madness doesn’t stop – but they are static. Besides, the aesthetic arguments are not the killer for turbines – the killers are engineering, economics and climate change. Turbines make no engineering or economic sense (hence the dash for gas) and end up increasing CO2 as ever-increasing numbers have to be incorporated into the grid and backed up with spinning reserve.

    • Guest

      With turbines, come pylons – especially in remote areas where the cost of undergrounding is prohibitive. How else do you think electricity is transported????

    • amymbhoward@hotmail.com

      Leave a message…

    • Patricia Sharkey

      The turbines bring the pylons – they go hand in hand. How do you think the turbines are connected to the grid?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenny.keal Jenny Keal

    It has just occurred to me that all of this week the weather has been bitingly cold in the Edw valley. It is a frost pocket and stays cold all day. These conditions mean virtually no wind so since this turbine has been built, a week or so ago, I doubt if the farmer has made any return on his ‘investment’ That’s cheered me up just a little bit.

    • realisticgreen

      Did you notice the £10.5 million fine levied on CPP Ltd. because they allegedly ‘used misleading information and spurious statistics to support their sales claims’ ?

      When will the National Audit Office impose similar fines on the wind scamming industry that quotes wildly optimistic output figures (despite having ample historical records to draw on …) in planning applications – and issues implication-laden name-plate capacity figures for Press coverage when the reality is so very much different??

      If I bought a new car advertised as “capable of 100 mph” and then found that due to foreseen (by the makers) fuelling problems it only averaged 25 mph max (and sometimes came to a complete halt on cold, windless, winter days ….. then I would sue the pants off them for gross misrepresentation.
      Why is this coalition treating the vastly subsidised windmill industry with such kid gloves ?
      How has the intense lobbying permitted behind the scenes managed to secure such a poor deal for the paying consumers ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/nigelbryancook Nige Cook

    “When I die — as I nearly did once, you’ll remember, when I was carried off down the River Edw in full spate only to be rescued by an overhanging branch — you’ll find engraved in my heart the name of the hamlet where we stay.”

    Float on your back, or if the water’s choppy and coming over your face, tread water. I always tread water to cool down in the deep end after swimming, and it has proved useful when swimming in the sea when tiredness kicks in.

    Cameron could debunk socialist AGW wind farms right now using the fact that the 1% fall in mean tropospheric humidity since 1946 is equivalent in greenhouse gas strength to the 25% increase in CO2. (See Fig. 3 in http://vixra.org/pdf/1212.0027v1.pdf ). But it’s politically incorrect to be scientifically accurate nowadays. Could cost him the votes of Greenpeace (if they don’t already vote Green Party).

  • http://fenbeagleblog.wordpress.com/ Fenbeagle

    Yay! And a very Unmerry Christmas to them all from this small dog too….Especially to Dale Vince of Ecotricity…..Plus of course a Very Unprosperous new year.

    But to every one else, have a Great Time!

  • http://twitter.com/bencorde ben corde

    The real Conservatives are now in UKIP’s camp. Including us. Something stinks about subsidised wind farms. I’d like to see an independent inquiry into who’s getting what out of this deal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.bellamy.589 David Bellamy

    James, a brilliant piece again. You may wish to know that the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) reported on this development, but did not bother to inspect the site, and when challenged on this stated that they had sufficient information from the developer. The developer’s application was biased, with a considerable distancing from reality, and in no way could be relied upon. Some time ago CCW drew up an excellent survey of Welsh landscapes, entitled LANDMAP, in which the Edw Valley is highly rated, almost outstanding landscape, and therefore rarely surpassed elsewhere in the country. When challenged on the contradiction between LANDMAP and their local report they said they can only respond to locations of national significance, eg, within AONBs or national parks. Seeing as there are few AONBs in Wales, and the three national park authorities do a better job of preservation than CCW, that actually leaves very little for CCW to do! They are completely at odds with their remit of ‘making the environment a valued part of everyone’s life in Wales’. If they can do this to the Edw Valley then nowhere in the Welsh countryside is off-limits to this brutal industry.

  • Jeff Mills

    Surveys reveal that far more people like wind turbines than dislike them. Fierce one sided views of an individual should not be allowed to be written as news. James is well known as being a anti-wind campaigner who’s facts are incorrect and knows only how to answer a key questions with other questions. This article is a disgrace, it’s not journalism, it is just a rant. Wind turbines add to energy security, when the wind is up, the country uses less expensive gas imports from Quatar. This can only be considered a good thing. The visual impact of wind turbines on the landscape is a subjective matter. You either like them or dislike them, and this will never change. Personally, i think a well designed wind farm can site comfortably in most landscapes. All the developed countries in the world are now investing heavily in this technology, for a reason. James can’t be saying that every government, of every developed nation in the world are wrong? That is a big statement! This is the future, along with a mix of all energy technologies.

    • Mary Young

      You do have a couple of things which are correct – James Delingpole is well known as being anti-wind and some people do like turbines – invariably people who have a vested interest or who live nowhere near them and are not impacted in any way (apart from the fact that they pay for turbine subsidies).
      On just about every other count you have clearly not done much research on the subject; definitely not as much as James. The comment ‘visual impact…is a subjective matter’. No it is not; many Councils up and down the country have prepared landscape reports on the matter, which have then fed into policy – in great detail – and all very objective

    • Vindpust

      Jonathon Porritt, arch-Windy, ex-director of FoE, ex-chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, Founder Director of ‘Forum for the Future’:
      “The modern wind turbine is a mighty intrusive beast. It’s not into
      nestling, blending in or any of those other clichés beloved of rural
      romantics.” (Daily Telegraph).

      Nor does the wind industry agree with you. Every wind planning application I have seen devotes considerable space to a Visual Impact Assessment which discusses ADVERSE impacts on landscape and amenity. Why would they do that do you think?

      Get your facts right – the bottom is dropping out of the wind market – check the share value trajectories of Vestas, Sinoval, Iberdrola etc. The UK is one of the few countries not to have cut wind subsidies right back (a 10% cut from 2013 for onshore is neither here nor there).

      As to why so many countries have been so deluded, this is not the first time we have seen this sort of behaviour – remember the dot-com bubble?

  • Roz

    Yeah let’s reopen all the coal fired power plants! woo!

    • http://twitter.com/JamesDelingpole James Delingpole

      Wales had a thriving coal industry once. Where real people did real work and earned real money making a real contribution to the economy and their country’s well-being. What do you contribute, Roz?

    • Vindpust

      Like Germany whose huge onshore wind capacity – over 23GW to our 5GW – has resulted in an unstable grid, very expensive industrial and domestic electricity and they are still the dirty man of Europe in per capita CO2 emissions.

  • Jack

    You should try living here all year around; there’s a hard reality that’s at odds with your sentimentality. Wales is not a private seclusion for the English middle classes; we are real people with real needs. Affordable energy is one of those needs, perhaps more important than our desire to provide weekend breaks for the likes of you. Of course, it would be fantastic if we could remain frozen in time, or somehow obtain 100% green and affordable energy. Years ago, the blight on the Welsh landscape was incomers from England; we’ve got over that, and I’m sure we’ll get over the horror of every farm having a turbine.

    • http://twitter.com/JamesDelingpole James Delingpole

      Stripping out the bitterness, resentment and sense of entitlement I’m not sure what your comment actually says. No one’s arguing against “affordable energy” – quite the contrary. The problem with wind – as you’d realise if instead of moping around Wales feeling chippy and needy – is that it is NOT affordable, being almost entirely dependent on massive subsidies compulsory levied on the energy user.
      Shale gas, for example, is much cheaper and far less environmentally damaging. If you hate the English that’s your problem. If you hate the middle classes (who probably pay your dole money or your subsidies) that’s also your problem. Just don’t try dressing up your nastiness and ignorance in the guise of environmental concern or stark wisdom or economic commonsense.

    • Jenny Keal

      Jack, I made my home in Wales because I love the stunningly beautiful landscape. There is an economic value in that landscape in the form of tourism. Industrial wind turbines destroy the natural landscape and do deter visitors despite the wind industry’s spurious claims to the contrary. BUT the biggest problem with wind energy is the simple fact that it requires full time back up from conventional power generation and therefore becomes exorbitantly expensive, a strain on the national grid, and contributes nothing to reducing carbon emissions. Wake up! The whole thing is a huge scam! It is subsidy farming and nothing else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RonitaBell Roni Bell Sylvester

    Does this mean we can’t ship you the U.S.’s14,000 vacated wind turbines?

  • Beaufort

    The MP Chris Heaton-Harris is one of our best hopes of salvation from wind ‘farms’.
    It is essential that everyone who cares about this goes to his website at: http://www.togetheragainstwind.com Send him a donation or at the very least please offer your support by signing up. Also, please distribute these details to anyone and everyone who might be on our side.

  • angelleb

    If you agree with this article then the only party you can vote for is UKIP.

  • http://twitter.com/faykellytuncay Repeal the Act!
  • http://twitter.com/Sewallhouse Sewall House Yoga

    what a GREAT article..can be said for many people in rural Maine as well as those that travel far and wide to experience them..just as Lonely Planet chooses northern Maine as one of its top U.S. travel destinations in 2013 two of the most beautiful historic lakes will be devastated by the largest number of wind turbines ( I think it is another manipulative joke to call them farms) in the State..it is simply heartbreaking and murderous.

  • Charley Barber

    And the same environmental degradation, visual pollution, diminishing of real estate values and health issues are being visited upon the Australian landscape. The scant energy the turbines provide is heavily subsidized by well-intentioned, but ill-informed, politicians who are attempting to placate a populace equally well-intentioned to save the environment. Problem is the turbines don’t and won’t. The power is too inconsistent, the cost prohibitive and the coal fired turbines need to stay on standby to supplement them.

    Fifty years from now, the naivete of the general populace will be the subject of the occasional retrospective feature article either bemoaning the folly or giggling at the waste of resources. We won’t even bother to mention the greed which is one of the primary motivating factors of this nonsense.

    Ultimately, the land, the countryside and common sense will prevail. The turbines will mostly come down. Concrete pads will remain. But not before a lot of money will be wasted and a lot of lives, communities and families will be ruined.

  • Global City

    There are far graver consequences of being blinded by the global warming/climate change mania than spoilt landscapes.

    Thousands of old people will die in just the UK THIS winter because of REAL climate change. Their deaths will not be caused by CO2, but they will die as a direct result of policies persued by fanatics pushing up the price of fuel.

  • Howard Dare

    We have to stop being namby pamby Brits and call it the way it is. These things are happening because Liberal Democrat zealots take great pleasure in destroying the lives of decent people. With any luck people will know them for what they are and lets hope they all lose their deposits next time around.

  • James

    This article is ridiculous, I cannot believe that The Spectator has allowed you to print this. As someone, born and bred locally, living just over the hill, with a passion for the local countryside, the idea that this single turbine has spoiled the stunning Edw
    Valley is ludicrous. I live in this landscape day in day out and can honestly
    say I have absolutely no problem with single turbines. If they wanted to build
    a windfarm up on the brow of the hill, as they have tried to do in other local
    areas, that would be an entirely different matter but one single turbine in amongst
    farm buildings cannot be blamed for spoiling either neighbouring villages or
    the village in which it stands. In fact, I believe that small, inconspicuous
    renewable energy units such as this should be encouraged to save us from the
    blight of large scale developments which have a drastic impact and mean a
    change in the character and infrastructure of rural areas.

    You certainly should not have commented about the neighbour who has been ‘hospitalised’ over this application, anyone with a rational bone in their body can see this is unjustified.

    Finally, with regard to the second home owners who are having to sell up, I can’t pretend I feel sorry for them. They will find other rural areas where they expect the locals not to change anything and to live in the dark ages for ever and a day so they can enjoy their weekend retreat, meanwhile when they are gone the young people in
    this area may actually be able to afford to buy a house here.

  • M Wright

    Our countryside is not only under siege from wind farms but here in Northants we are also under threat from other developments and I fear for the future of this beautiful land and its wildlife. Grettonbrook Estates have submitted a planning application to build a ‘Resource Recovery Park’- a euphemism for waste plant (Orwell would have been proud) near Gretton and Rockingham Their website states that ‘ A masterplan is being developed to mitigate the effect of removing the trees and to plan for relocating the biodiversity’ Have you ever heard the like ? Tranlated, this guff means that they are going to chop down a huge area of woodland and do what exactly with the wildlife whose habitat has been destroyed ?? Locate it where ? how? every mammal, insect, plant? meaningless nonsense.

    If you would like to know more look at www. grettonbrookestates.co.uk and to see the villagers’ response go to grettonon.com the website for Gretton village news. You can sign the online petition. I understand that you now live in Northants so do please help to protect this land.

    Thank you

  • Pinko

    You haven’t seen it yet James – you hardly notice it. I don’t have a problem with it and I live in Cregrina. The local so called scuzz ball has helped to ferry people to hospital through the snow, and pulled stranded vehicles out of ditches – including mine. If I object to anything, it is second home owners who seem to think this
    is some sort of rural theme park where they can come for a weekend
    party, park their cars all over the place and set off fireworks into the
    night with not a thought for the neighbours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lenny.newman.505 Lenny Newman

    Man-made global warming is fictitious and thus anyone who genuinely believes in it is no better than an Islamic fundamentalist who wishes death to the West. This is an apt analogy, because these carbon taxes are bringing about the deaths of old people in Britain right now who can’t afford to heat their homes.

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