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PRESS ATTACK, Sensational report in the Times

A sensational article by Simon Jenkins in The Times newspaper complains of the proliferation of wind farms in Cornwall, Wales, Yorkshire and Scotland, of their effects on tourism and the subsidies that pay for them. The London Evening Standard used a statement by Environment Secretary John Gummer condemning the "new brutalism" in the countryside caused by wind turbines to launch an attack on plans for two wind farms at Helmsdale in Sutherland.

Once again wind energy has made headlines in the British press. In early May Simon Jenkins of The Times vented his spleen in an article protesting against the "wild, gesticulating intrusion" of wind turbines. He complained of the proliferation of wind farms in Cornwall, Wales, Yorkshire and Scotland, of their effects on tourism and the subsidies that pay for them.

"They are the product of a deal between Greens, farmers and government," he wrote. In a statement of breathtaking hyperbole he concluded: wind towers "testify to the power of the public subsidy to do wrong. They are Britain's Chernobyl." Later the same month in the London Evening Standard, Environment Secretary John Gummer condemned the "new brutalism" in the countryside caused by wind turbines. The article does not appear to be a report of any public outpourings by the minister (not known for his pro-wind views), but rather elicitd by the Standard solely for its use.

They were used by the newspaper to launch an attack on plans for two wind farms at Helmsdale in Sutherland. The projects -- by Micon and Renewable Energy Systems -- were granted planning permission by the local authority. However in a twist to the planning process peculiar to Scotland, all wind projects have to go through the Scottish Office for a final decision. Proponents of both schemes fear that industry minister George Kynoch will be swayed by the publicity manufactured in the press and by the small anti wind farm campaign group, Country Guardian. Their fears are not groundless. The Scottish Secretary's record in calling-in wind applications where no serious objections exist already defies logic.

While the Standard's article undoubtedly caused ripples of consternation among members of Britain's wind industry, they can take comfort that it appeared only in the early edition of the newspaper -- elbowed aside later in the day by real news.

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