WMN opinion: March of the renewables is an issue for all to consider
It is not so much the wind turbines already operating across the Westcountry that are the story in today’s Western Morning News report about the march of the renewables across the region, but the huge growth in the numbers of them that may well come next.
As we report, applications for new turbines far outnumber those already built and will extend the spread of turbines into more areas of Devon in particular. Then there are the far less advanced proposals which could yet come to fruition in the years ahead. Add in those that have been turned down but could still succeed on appeal and you have the potential for unprecedented growth.
Whether you view all of this as a positive sign that the Westcountry is leading the way in providing sustainable energy that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels or a massive growth of wasteful and inefficient blots on the landscape that suck in subsidy cash and inflate our electricity bills, will depend upon your point of view. It will also depend on how seriously you take the threat from global climate change and whether or not you believe renewables are the answer to curbing that threat and keeping the lights on.
Those are debates for another day – although it is alarming to note that the Government can’t seem to agree on such a crucial issue with Energy Secretary Ed Davey and Environment Minister Owen Paterson clearly at odds on the need for renewable energy.
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What no one can ignore, however, is the impact the march of the turbines is having on the windy Westcountry landscape and the communities within it. And when you consider too the effect of the solar panels, arguably going up at an even faster rate and making an even bigger impact on the view and the viability of farmland, you have an issue of huge importance.
That’s why the WMN has chosen to highlight it today; that’s why in Monday’s newspaper and on our website we will also be looking at the spread of the solar panels and that is why we want to hear your views. Traditionally it is those most vehemently opposed to renewables who expressed their opinions, through our columns and on our website. We are very happy to hear them and give them a platform, as we have been doing for years. We would also like to give voice to a broader view, however. Energy is vital. How we get it matters just as much. So does the landscape. How do we square that circle?