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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Rallying cry for industry credibility at BWEA's annual gathering

Wind energy's opponents were given an opportunity to put their case before the wind industry in a debate chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, a well known television broadcaster, at the British wind lobby's annual conference. The platform line-up comprised Brendan Hamill, who founded the anti-wind political party Scottish Wind Watch, Geoffrey Sinclair, who has opposed wind projects at 30 public inquiries, Mark Avery, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Simon Reddy from Greenpeace, and Ian Mays from Renewable Energy Systems. The debate focused most on the effects of wind turbines on birds, the global need for clean energy and wind's contribution to reducing greenhouse gases. Hamill gave delegates a taste of the more extreme myths in circulation among wind's opponents when he claimed that building wind turbines increases carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. This was robustly countered by Mays as "absolute nonsense." He said: "Wind turbines repay the carbon dioxide invested in their construction and concrete, steel -- the lot -- within five months." Sinclair complained that the pursuit of cheap electricity was driving the wind industry to impose wind turbines on sensitive landscapes. "If electricity was more expensive, we'd have more money to force you offshore which is where you ought to be." Reddy bemoaned that the debate about wind was losing sight of the real issue: global warming. "The developing world will suffer most from the impacts of climate change," he said. "And here we are debating whether or not we like the look of a wind farm. We have got to get real: this is a global catastrophe."

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