What Polly Toynbee didn’t say (This war on windfarms is the Tories’ latest sop to Ukip, 28 October) was that two weeks ago wind generated 25% of Britain’s power. What we should be doing is growing our own indigenous wind turbine industry, as at the moment we import them from mainly Germany and Denmark. A British wind turbine industry would generate much-needed skilled jobs in manufacturing, and improve our balance of payments too.
Britain could be self-sufficient in cheap energy, as we are surrounded by the sea and wind; the risk of being reliant on imported, expensive fossil fuels would be eliminated, with lower industrial costs making us able to export cheaply. As lower electricity costs were passed on to the consumer, this would boost the economy, as people didn’t have to worry about the “second mortgage” that has become the energy price rip-off. Government could legislate that all newbuild housing should have solar panels as standard.
Are we really saying that the country that invented radar, television, antibiotics and the jet engine, among other things – the country of Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee and Peter Higgs – cannot grasp the nettle of a new age of affordable, clean energy?
It was once said that the trade unions were luddites for not embracing change; today the real luddites are Eric Pickles, Nigel Farage and the rest of the Tory and Ukip parties.
• Maybe reactionary populism works by threes. In the US to be a true Republican (as defined by the Tea Party) is to be against gun control, against abortion and against “the climate change lobby”. And, as Polly Toynbee notes, to be a true Tory (as defined by Ukip) is to be against Europe, against immigration and against windfarms.
In fact Ukip has been at the forefront of many local campaigns against wind energy, including the offshore Atlantic Array, but not on the Somerset levels. The campaign against the Ecotricity proposals that Toynbee speaks of has been led by the Huntspill Windfarm Action Group.
Rather than condemn such groups, it is vital to understand the real sense of fear and loss that often underlies what we might otherwise too easily dismiss as nimbyism. For it is the same fear and loss that fuels anti-European and anti-immigrant sentiment. The need to cling to the idea of a timeless British (physical and social) landscape has been a recurring theme of Toryism, and it is this that Ukip now threatens to capture from the Conservatives.
Chair, Climate Psychology Alliance
• Yes, windfarms are political but Polly Toynbee shouldn’t link all opposition to windfarms with climate-change denials. Wind turbines in the right place are a useful part of a mixed energy policy, even though wind power is not particularly clean or cheap once all construction, standby and transmission factors are considered.
There are other reasons for opposing windfarms. They are on an industrial scale, but built mostly in rural areas, and they create only a tiny number of rural jobs. The real money goes to the developer and the (often rich) landowner, paid by customers (including the poor) via subsidies on their energy bills. Whatever Mr Pickles’ reason for calling in appeals, at least it means MPs and councils are now beginning to listen to local opposition.
Come to Northumberland or east Yorkshire and see the damage done to the landscape there, and listen to the outcry from residents, left and right.