AS UKIP RISES in the polls, there’s a real need for us to consolidate our ground by showing that we’re not the single-issue party some say. We have to become visible and relevant in our local communities – and the battle against wind energy is the way to do it.
By: Steve Crowther, Chairman, UKIP.
The Government’s wind-rush may be powered by EU targets, but it’s a UK issue and a UK problem. It’s the UK government – in the form of all major parties except UKIP – that has adopted the delusional strategy of trying to plug our looming energy gap by closing large-scale power stations and replacing them with 32,000 wind turbines.
The public – and even the mainstream media – are starting to be more aware of the flaws in this strategy; major newspapers have run critical stories about the crackpot economics of wind, and even the BBC has had an ‘incident’ of heresy on Countryfile.
Now, Conservative outriders are starting to talk of reining back “onshore” wind turbines. But the Green/Power lobby, led by Energy Minister Greg Barker, are staging a spirited fightback, reflecting the colossal amounts of money involved.
UKIP must be at the forefront of local campaigns against wind turbines. Not because we are ‘climate change deniers’ or Nimbyists. But because the wind strategy is utterly incapable of plugging the 2015-30 energy gap, but in the process is driving millions into fuel poverty to make landowners and power companies richer.
UKIP on the barricades
All over the country, local UKIP branches are actively involved in opposition groups fighting wind turbine applications.
The game has changed recently. Having seen planning rejections for ‘arrays’ rise from 29% to 49% last year, the industry have adopted a new tactic: selling individual turbines door-to-door.
If each farmer and smallholder in a hamlet is sold a medium-sized turbine – on the “leave it to me, we’ll do all the work and you’ll get free energy and a nice bonus from the feed-in tariff” basis – pretty soon there’s a wind farm. And planners find it harder to refuse a single unit than an array.
Meanwhile, the focus has moved offshore. Since areas like the Dogger Bank and the Bristol Channel don’t have MPs, they’re a much more popular location.
In North Devon UKIP are leading the fight against the Atlantic Array, a 500 square kilometre plan which, at up to 417 units, will be the largest offshore windfarm in the world, just off the UK’s first Marine Conservation Zone and one of the country’s most protected wild coasts. www.slaythearray.com
In Dorset, a huge array off the Jurassic Coast threatens the oyster beds as well as jeopardising tourism. In Liverpool Bay, the plan is to extend the Burbo Bank array, whose turbine blades have already had to be replaced after only 5 years in operation.
All over the country new onshore and offshore arrays are in development. And we need to lead the fight against them all.
Our policy in a nutshell
UKIP’s policy on wind energy is simple. It has nothing to do with climate change or CO2, or whether you like the look of wind turbines. It is this:
1. Wind energy cannot be used to provide baseload or despatchable grid electricity, because you don’t know when the wind will blow. Therefore, wind turbines need on average 90% back-up from gas/coal power stations on ‘spinning reserve’, ie waiting to be called on to fill in when the wind drops. Spinning reserve is not an economic or even carbon-efficient way to run a power station. These plants will require massive subsidy. When the wind blows at the ‘wrong’ time, wind operators are paid not to supply.
2. Wind can never be a serious contributor to our large-scale energy needs, so we must focus on other technologies to fill the ‘energy gap’ which will appear from 2015. This means replacing our nuclear capacity as soon as possible, exploiting the UK’s huge reserves of shale gas – and stopping the closure of perfectly serviceable power stations like Kingsnorth because of ideological EU rules. The UK should lead the way towards cleaner nuclear technologies (thorium fission and fusion).
3. UKIP is not opposed to renewable energy. Reliable marine current and tidal energy will soon be available on a large scale; and renewables (including wind) should be used to reduce energy demands through micro-generation.
SOME WINDY FIGURES
• The national grid has difficulty accepting wind-generated power, which can trip its failover switches if it comes in at the wrong frequency. The Green/Power solution is to upgrade the grid. This is estimated to cost upwards of £60 billion or, including the turbines, £200 billion.
• ‘Constraint’ payments (payments to UK wind operators for not supplying power) in 2011 totalled around £25m.
• The subsidy to renewables in 2011 was £1.1 billion. The total subsidy which will be paid to wind operators by 2030 will be £130 billion.
• Tony Blair signed us up to EU targets meaning we have to produce 32% of our electricity from renewables by 2020. The current (2010) figure is 6.5%.
• In England, fuel poverty (spending 10% or more of your household income on fuel) has risen from 20% to 25% of the population. The Labour government passed a law requiring fuel poverty to be eliminated by 2016.
• By 2034 it is estimated that there will be 225,000 tonnes of used carbon-fibre turbines blades in Europe, which no-one yet knows how to get rid of.
Sign up to support the troops at the front
There are a number of ways you can support the fight against wind turbines from your armchair. Please sign up to these:
E-petition No 22958
A Government e-petition set up by David Ramsbotham calling for a debate on stopping the wind energy policy. Sign up here:
Slay The Array
A UKIP-led campaign to prevent the building of the world’s largest wind array between the North Devon and Pembroke coasts, off Lundy Island. Sign up and get your friends to do so as well, so we can put pressure on the Secretary of State later in the year.
National Opposition to Windfarms
A new attempt to create a national focus against wind-based energy policy, NOW asks you to register your support by clicking the button. Please do.