News release - HCC and Wind Farms
Hampshire County Council's proposed policy to ban wind farms on County Council land is misguided and harmful, according to local charity Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) when they make a presentation to Ken Thornber, HCC Leader and Executive Member for Policy and Resources, at his decision day on 24 January.
Members of WinACC stress the need to provide a sustainable future, the urgency for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the compromises we need to take on wind farms' visual impact. To read these views click below to read more.
Angela Sealey, a vice chair of WinACC, stresses that WinACC is motivated by concern for the well-being of our children and grandchildren. It is our responsibility to leave them a world in which they can live safely and sustainably, not one ravaged by rising sea levels, floods and extreme temperatures. Councillors are entrusted to make decisions on behalf of Hampshire's citizens, now and in the future. Once a wind farm finishes its work, it can be removed and the land it occupied can be returned to its natural state. Decades from now, other technologies may well be available but we need renewable energy that works and we need it today. The visual impact of wind turbines is reversible. The effects of climate change on our beautiful countryside are not.
Bob Whitmarsh, chair of WinACC's Science and Technology Advisory Panel, will remind Councillors that the County Council says it is concerned that the global temperature has already risen and continues inexorably to rise. Climate scientists tell us that we need to sharply reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at once, which means we need to stop burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. And the UK needs to generate more electricity as old nuclear and coal-burning power stations close.
Generating our electricity from the wind is among the quickest ways to cut emissions. The marginal cost is practically zero, because the wind is free. Onshore wind is possibly Hampshire's best source of renewable energy. Yet, according to DECC, there isn't a single wind farm in the whole of Hampshire. It makes no sense to reject wind outright when it has so much to offer.
HCC can only ban wind power on its own land. It has no power to make decisions about proposed schemes on other people's land, and it would be improper of the County Council to try to influence planning decisions that are taken by district councils.
WinACC is relieved to see that, in reality, HCC owns very little land in rural Hampshire, and as far as the charity's researchers can see, none of the County Councils land would be much use for, or appropriate for, wind power anyway. So the whole policy looks like an empty gesture.
"I wonder when HCC plans to pull down Bursledon windmill, an example of the historic use of wind power on County Council land?", asks Chris Holloway, WinACC's Director, "Some people like to see slowly revolving turbines in the landscape and to reflect that they are producing the electricity on which our way of life depends and doing it for practically nothing. Others don't. But did our forebears reject windmills because they were unsightly? No, because they were a necessary part of every day life and produced flour for baking bread. There were protests in the twentieth century against electricity pylons but now they are accepted. Well, today we have to face up to the fact that we need wind farms to generate electricity safely in a sustainable way that will not put our children, our grandchildren and their descendants in peril."