United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Catalogue of attacks on wind

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British wind energy has been hit be a veritable onslaught of negative press this year, added to in recent weeks by the publication of a series of wind-bashing reports from supposedly authoritative sources. In addition, a stream of media appearances by two television celebrities -- presenter Noel Edmonds and environmentalist David Bellamy -- repeating the same falsehoods about wind have added to industry fears that a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation is underway. The nuclear power industry has been noticeably active on the public relations front during the same period.

Many of the claims against wind -- even from respected organisations -- are lacking substance and are wrong, says the wind lobby. But having been taken up by the media and wind's opponents, even the most spurious claims begin to gain common currency.

The opposition Conservative party is also increasingly vocal in its dislike of wind turbines. Earlier this year, then shadow environment minister Theresa May added her voice to objections to a wind farm in Devon. She followed this up at the Conservative party's spring conference by attacking the government's renewables target, claiming that "our countryside is being blighted by the construction of ten thousand wind turbines." If votes can be gained on an anti-wind platform, wind could be in danger of turning into an election issue this year. The catalogue of hits against wind is extensive, but includes the following examples:

January: Amanda Harry, a local doctor in Devon, south-west England, claims wind turbines affect health having asked patients living near wind farms to describe their symptoms -- "infrasound" emerges as an issue and the Daily Telegraph and Western Morning News run reports; a district judge rules that wind turbines have reduced property values in Cumbria, reported by The Times in a feature and other press; feature in The Observer after a wind turbine caused the death of a bird, a Red Kite, in Wales; BBC program Nature features bird and bat strikes; Western Morning News reports on wind turbines and noise disturbance;

February: Start of series of articles in the Western Morning News on bat collisions with wind turbines; environmentalist Professor James Lovelock attacks wind and presses case for nuclear in Western Morning News;

Country Life magazine launches campaign and petition against wind farms;

March: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds claims that offshore wind farms could threaten bird populations; BBC television program Bee in My Bonnet follows anti-wind farm campaigners; report by Royal Academy of Engineering attacks cost of renewables, particularly offshore wind, compared with fossil fuels and nuclear;

April: Feature in The Observer about pro-nuclear head of anti-wind power organisation Country Guardian and his campaigning;

May: Report by Institute of Directors argues against the Kyoto Protocol and in favour of nuclear; popular gardening celebrity Alan Titchmarsh speaks out against wind turbines; report by the David Hume Institute attacks costs of wind and calls for nuclear to be reconsidered; flurry of letters attacking wind appear in professional journals, including publications of the Institution for Electrical Engineers, Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Energy;

June: Conservative party attacks wind turbines in some local election pamphlets;

Single issue party Scottish Wind Watch stands for elections to European Parliament on anti-wind farm platform; Western Morning News launches major campaign against wind turbines; claims in The Scotsman newspaper that wind farm planning decisions are "swept through" by ministers keen to meet renewables targets; BBC News coverage of the UK's first national anti-wind turbine conference in Saddleworth, near to a proposed wind farm site north of Manchester; BBC also devotes pages of its website to a lopsided wind farm debate.

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