Of consumers and nimbys

Your editorial, "Containing British Blight" (Windpower Monthly, September 1998), discusses the seeds of a solution to British planning problems, but with some incorrect assumptions. Firstly, windy sites are efficient sites yielding more kilowatt hours per square metre of rotor swept area and therefore less turbines for the same output. Under the NFFO system they are not the most profitable, merely the contract winners.

Secondly, the uplands are not all "cherished" or "sensitive" in local terms. Some of the bleakest wind farm sites in Britain have always been used for farming, peat cutting and forestry. The wind farms are seen by many as just a new facet of rural farming traditions. Thirdly, rural wind farms carry local support by providing local investment, maintenance jobs and income. Real country dwellers do not welcome higher property prices.

Nimbyism in planning is an unfortunate facet of our consumer society. It doesn't just affect wind farms. One answer is to set obligations on local authorities to provide their own contribution to sustainability. This would encourage solutions rather than just objections. It would also negate any need for promoting lower wind speed sites as they would automatically be considered regionally.

Lastly, the fact that the Green Party holds the balance of power in Germany -- but is nowhere to be seen in British politics -- shows that we have some way to go.