Anti-Wind Power Activists Turn Up Heat In England

The uneasy relationship between wind farms and the concerns of rural communities has been highlighted again with the release of a new report which, the authors say, shows the damage wind energy development is having on the English countryside.

Unlike the United States, Britain’s small size and dense population means that, in spite of some rare exceptions (such as a few remote parts of Scotland and northern England) onshore wind farm development is inevitably going to take place close to human habitation.

england-wind

image via Campaign for the Protection of Rural England

The new report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) highlights the proliferation of onshore wind turbines — 114 in operation and 200 more either under construction or in the pipeline.

The CPRE claims that many of these farms are a blot on the landscape, intruding into some of the most tranquil areas of England.

The environmental pressure group said rural communities felt “increasingly powerless” confronted with large-scale wind farm projects run by powerful, well-funded energy companies, and that rampant development risked undermining public support for measures to combat climate change.

In its report, CPRE called on government to enforce a locally accountable, strategically planned approach to onshore wind development.

Wind farms remain a divisive issue in England. Although polls show that a majority of the British public — 67 percent — support wind farms and don’t believe they have a negative impact on the countryside, pressure groups have emerged in recent years demanding a moratorium on wind farm development. The National Opposition to Windfarms (NOW), for example, launched its charter recently calling for a complete end to the building of new turbines.

The CPRE released two maps to accompany its report showing wind farm locations. The first shows the farms’ impact on the tranquillity of the countryside (PDF) and the second shows wind farm locations alongside protected landscapes (PDF).

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.