Turbines are not the solution

SIR – I was surprised by both the opinions expressed in last week s Last Word and your report on the meeting held in Weston Village Hall. I suspect that I was not alone in wrestling with my environmental conscience as I walked to the meeting. I know that

SIR - I was surprised by both the opinions expressed in last week's Last Word and your report on the meeting held in Weston Village Hall.

I suspect that I was not alone in wrestling with my environmental conscience as I walked to the meeting. I know that carbon emissions must be contained and I have no wish to leave a poisonous legacy to future generations when I eventually set off to meet my maker. On the other hand, everything I have ever read about wind turbines suggests that they are not even a very small solution to an enormously complex problem, but are a significant blot on the landscape.

Burdened with these thoughts and suitably 'informed' by John Cherry's performance on BBC regional television I took my seat and prepared to listen to cogent arguments for and against the proposal.

In John Cherry's opening address he presented himself and his brother as environmentally friendly farmers wishing to do their bit to save the planet. At this point I was on their side and joined in the applause as he sat down. As time went on and the brothers and their technical consultant fielded more questions, the audience drew out the following facts.


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The turbines will cost circa £5-6 million to purchase and erect and that this investment will have been recouped after three to three and a half years. They also divulged that the life expectancy of a turbine is 30 years. Simple maths would therefore suggest that their initial investment of £6 million will return them £45.428 million over 30 years at today's prices. Put another way they will earn £142,855 per month for 318 months.

This brings me to your report of the meeting. I estimate that more than 80 per cent of the people who asked questions were either partly or wholly against the project. This is at odds with your assertion that the "collective feeling seemed in favour of the plan". In fact it wasn't until near the very end that a female speaker, objecting to the anti turbine consensus spoke passionately about the need to protect the coming generations from greenhouse gasses.

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Neither did your article draw a parallel with the controversy surrounding the Baldock bypass. The considerable sums of money spent in tunnelling to protect the line of the hills and therefore an area of natural beauty will be besmirched if the Cherrys' plans come to fruition.

I left the meeting with the clear impression that this proposition has less to do with a greener planet and more to do with naked commercialism. The big difference between the rest of the Weston inhabitants and the Cherry family is that we didn't inherit vast tracts of land, sell a great deal of it off to provide Stevenage with the means to expand ever closer to our front doors from the south and now the opportunity to pollute us from the north with 80 metre wind turbines spinning 80 metre blades.

Of equal concern is your unequivocal support for an overt business venture, which calls into question the impartiality of your paper. I naively thought that the proud tradition of local newspapers was that they supported the little man. The Comet has turned this principle on its head and you should be ashamed of your enthusiasm for some local business men's avarice.

KEN MOTHERSDALE

By email

SIR - I take it Hannah Gray (Last Word, August 17) is happy to take what she recommends - electricity at four or five times the normal price, supplied when the whim takes someone else, so worthless.

That is wind power. The root objections to it are that it is hopelessly uneconomic and pointless.

In the Weston story, it's the taxpayers who pay the huge subsidy and the farmers who benefit most, as growing turbines seems to pay better than rape or sheep. (What a pity Hannah never gave the numbers).

One hopes that the 6MW are produced in a second, not a year, and even then this is an utterly trivial amount: 2,000 turbines would at peak equal the single Drax power station.

Everyone agrees that wind cannot supply a significant part of Britain's energy needs. To make the turbines useful Weston would also need a massive lake in the sky (for energy storage), or a nuclear power station. Hannah mentions God, who has been so generous as to supply the almost perfect solution in the shape of nuclear power, far and away the safest and cleanest option.

We used to kill many people each year when using coal and oil. In the last 50 years, we have not had a single death from nuclear. The waste, by the way, could safely be stored in Hannah's back garden (believe me - and Sir James Lovelock).

REX GOOCH

Berkeley

Letchworth GC

SIR - Last week's editorial concuring with the view that turbines are a sound source of alternative energy fills me with dread, particularly agreeing to the proposal that three be sited on Weston Hills.

The Dept of Transport spent many millions hiding the new road and your correspondent dismisses that as the turbines will supply the energy for 3,300 homes.

Before developing such eyesores we need to look at the damage to a very beautiful part of the country, the cost of producing such turbines (ie a full energy audit), the vested interests of the land owner (not disimilar to the telephone masts), the effect of the turbines on wildlife, in particular the birds. What of access roads, and finally current findings with the turbines in the North Sea suggest that there are real problems of maintenance and supply issues. The figure of 15,300 tonnes of carbon emissions saved is almost certainly assuming that the machines are operating all the time.

We need to think very carefully about ruining such a beautiful part of the country. The comparison made with the ruination of our towns has no bearing on this issue

DEREK HARRINGTON

Marlborough Road

Stevenage

SIR - We need more and more of these turbines so that we cannot be held to ransom by the oil producing countries.

If they are taxed correctly the Government will not lose out on energy taxes and the price of energy could come down. They are not exactly ugly to look at and help keep down the amount of harmful gasses in the atmosphere.

LET'S HAVE MORE!

MIKE BARNES

Hertford Road

Stevenage

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