Friday, May 23, 2014

Wind and Oil

My local village (in Cambridgeshire) is locked in heated debate about the installation of a new wind farm. 

Opponents, deftly skirting the elephant in the room of their house prices, are horrified by the monstrous eyesore soon to be erected on this flat, featureless expanse of windswept bog. 

The opposition website provides a neat illustration of the size and impact of the wind farm, placing the looming silhouettes of doom next to Thorney's historic abbey and a Bedford cottage. In case you've missed the subtle message, apparently a wind turbine is much larger than a 19th Century farmer's cottage. I can't argue with the author's firm grasp of scale, however, their understanding of relativity is woefully askew. I don't think anybody ever proposed building a wind turbine ten feet away from the Abbey.

I didn't think point number two could be topped... until I reached point number six - public footpaths. The wind farm development will have a "negative impact" on our "unspoilt" bridleways. They're unspoilt because nobody uses them, only the Ordnance Survey knows they exist. I'd bet if I wanted to take a pleasant afternoon stroll down one of these idyllic lanes I'd probably get shown both barrels by one of the charming, local farmers who seem to have mistaken the Fens for Zimbabwe. 

Making things nice and simple (presumably because that's the easiest way to avoid getting bogged down in logic) the opposition has written a six point plan of their concerns - in essence, it's a less ambitious version of US President Woodrow Wilson's post war reconstruction plan.

Point number two is a corker - the noise. Apparently if the wind is blowing in the right direction (that's a prevailing south westerly, if you're interested) and you turn the television off, and prick an ear to the breeze you might actually be able to hear the sound of the turbines. Of course, it's more likely that you'll hear the sound of the A47 bypass, or a dog barking, or a human voice, or any of the other millions of things in this world that make noise.

The six point plan is so flimsy and surreal that I began to wonder if it was not, in fact, a work of masterful satire (like when Defoe suggested eating the poor in his 'Modest Proposal'). 

What has any of this got to do with Ecuador?

Well, while the great environmental debate of the modern age is raging in Cambridgeshire... meanwhile, the Ecuadorian government has signed permits for oil drilling to commence in the Yasuni National Park (just 150 miles from where I now live) - a single hectare of which is home to a richer mix of trees, birds, amphibians, and reptiles than the US and Canada put together. 

What biodiversity has a hectare at Gore's Farm got to offer apart from a couple of labradors and a dead crow?

We can at least be reassured by promises from the Chinese drilling companies that they will take good care of this UNESCO reserve. 

So, let's soak thousands of acres of the most biologically diverse land on the planet in viscous, black filth and spare fair East Anglia from the irrecoverable plague of green energy.

Why not be more honest, Thorney? Replace the six point plan with the slogan "Sustainable energy at Gores Farm might have a slight impact on my house price thus making me slightly poorer as a result... I'm not against green energy, in fact, I offset the carbon footprint of my trans-Atlantic flights with tree planting projects in the Amazon." It's just a shame the Chinese are about the swamp your Amazonian saplings in black gold.

The Yasuni

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