If there is such a thing as a Duke of Edinburgh fan club, we codgers of the allotments should be in it. Philip is held in high esteem amongst our gang and not just because he is even older than we are. Some of us remember him as a dashing naval commander, few would have bet on his lasting the course as a silent member of a privileged and somewhat outdated clique. But he has toed the line apart from the occasional outburst. And today the papers are full of one of them.
We have always contended that the man is worth listening to, that he has more expoerience and nous than Cameron, Clegg and Miliband merged into one. And why shouldn’t he speak out, this is still supposedly a democracy. Yesterday he did just that in a conversation with Esbjorn Wilmar, of Infinergy, which builds and operates turbines. Philip was quick on the attack, he described wind turbines as “absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace”. We agree wholeheartedly.
The Duke went on to ask if Mr Wilmar believes in fairy stories. a good question since almost everything we have been told about wind farms is just that, a fairy story. Right now every electricity customer is paying around £90 per year to subsidise the monstrosities that are popping up everywhere. Heaven help you if you live withing two miles of a land-based version for the noise emitted is horrendous, so much so that right across the country turbines are being switched off during strong winds following a huge number of complaints about unacceptable noise levels. Residents near a new 22-turbine wind farm in Fullabrook, Devon, report that the noise is so acute that many sleep on sofas in their front rooms!
Already the UK has 3,421, with 2941 being onshore. Incentives are being paid to land owners with a view to a further 4500 being erected urgently, most of them owned by overseas companies, which currently receive around £500 million per year in government subsidies.
Noise apart, there is another major problem. During the coldest weather there is usually little wind and turbines cannot produce power without wind. On the other hand when there are very strong winds the national grid cannot cope with the surge and the power produced cannot be stored. Ministers contend that wind harnessing is essential if we are to meet the official commitment to produce 32 per cent of Britain’s electricity from 2020. But it simply will not work.
Even if we were able to build 10,000 turbines between then and now, they would come nowhere near meeting a third of our needs – indeed, during the coldest winter months, when demand is highest, they would supply only about one tenth of the demand. That means that gas-fired power stations, whose operation pushes more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And electricity generated by wind is vastly more expensive that that generated in other ways.
Of course there is an urgent need to generate clean electricity while cutting our use of fossil fuels. But wind farms are not the answer, neither is solar power, wave power or tidal power. The theory in every case sounds fine but the volume capabilility is very low indeed. Sadly the only way to pursue a dynamic green energy power is to build new nuclear power stations.
Not a popular idea. But simply spending vast amounts of something that can never make a significant impact is ludicrous, truly a fairy story.
Predictably, the politicians are rushing to silence the Duke and anyone else who dares to question their supposed wisdom. Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, calls opponents of wind-power “curmudgeons and fault-finders”. Coming from someone who seems incapable of remembering whether or not he was driving a car, that is rich. Coming from someone who supports spending £1 billion on buying up properties to clear the way for high-speed rail which will serve a tiny fraction of those suffering appalling rail services, it is as rich as Albert’s wife Christmas cake.
Good for the Duke. He may not have been elected but he regularly demonstrates a good deal more sense than those that were!
VIEW FROM (NEAR TO) THE SPEAKER’S CHAIR!
Sally Burcow in today’s Sunday Star; “First it was Labour’s fault, then the snow was to blame. And now its the Eurozone’s turn. Next thing you know it will be leaves on the line. How easy this politics game is. Just avoid taking responsibility and pass the buck!
Well I’m afraid it won’t wash. Unemployment figures are at a 17-year high and more than a million young people are out of work. For the government to blame the Eurozone is absurd. The fact is jobless figures always have a time lag . There is more connection with what happened six months ago.
It is time for this Government to stop pointing the finger at other people – or the weather. Come on Tories, man up and take responsibility – you’re fast running out of excuses. They urgently need a plan to stimulate growth and create new jobs. They should delay no longer.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S WEEKEND QUIZ; 1. A cucumber 2. Jans Lehmann 3. Sutton Pierce 4. The Mikado 5. St Leger 6. Peter (Rabbit) 7. A Human 8. An Alto 9. Partridges 10. Saddam Hussein