Pylons and turbines

May 31, 2011

Simon Jenkins and George Monbiot have been disagreeing over the merits of wind turbines. They both agree there is an impact on the aesthetics of the countryside but is it worth it for the energy generating potential?

Jenkins writes:

Such friends of the power industry as Jonathon Porritt and George Monbiot claim to find turbines and pylons beauteous objects that enhance the natural environment. I am glad they are not in charge of Snowdon, the Wye Valley or Hampstead Heath. But I doubt if either would think Constable’s Haywain would benefit from a few pylons in the background, which is reportedly what Huhne has in mind for Dedham Vale. His latest gimmick is a competition to build a more fetching pylon, which is like getting the Royal College of Art to redesign Golgotha. 

I’m not qualified on the matter but i think wind power has to be part of a mix of renewable resources along with things like sun and nuclear – and we have to keep assessing what elements of the mix are best in terms of costs and impact. But what i do find odd is this romanticising of the countryside so that it fits some preconceived notion of what it should ‘traditionally’ look like . Constable’s Haywain is a fantasy of how farm labourers worked – it looks like a doddle in the picture rather than the monotonous, hard labour it was back then (and still is in many instances).

And are cow sheds, tractors or even haystacks put there by field mice!!! Did the Barn Owl train Shep?!!? Ha ha ha – of course not. That would be very silly.

I like wind turbines and they serve a useful purpose  – but I don’t want every hill in the land covered by them. What seems to be forgotten is that we’ve always sought to put our imprint on the countryside and this is a new way of doing that. It just seems some activity – that which can be described as ‘traditional’ – is more acceptable than modern attempts. But it does seem a rather selective principle and in some instances all a bit Luddite.

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One Response to “Pylons and turbines”

  1. fugenie said

    Apparently they’re bad for birds and bats due to drop in air pressure they cause as well. Never had a problem with them myself (I wonder if people got upset by windmills in the past), but I was also under the impression that they were a pretty ineffective solution to the energy problem anyway. But like you say, they should be part of a mix of sources.

    I’ve heard about some stories about exciting new fuel developments (such as thorium and biogas), but they never seem to make the mainstream unfortunately, however I’m starting to think these kind of projects are our strongest bet.

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