Who pays the piper…

…ought to call the tune, but not where wind turbines are concerned. The Piper and Drake turbines in Withiel, rejected by the County Council’s planning committee for good reason, have been reinstated on appeal by a faceless bureaucrat over whom we can have no influence. Thus, aside from the Varcoe turbine already towering over our parish in all its hideous incongruity, we are to have two more, and several more are in the pipeline.

It is regrettable that some of our neighbours are prepared to despoil the parish for a handout, and that greed and opportunism should be dressed up as environmental concern in this way. The poison that has been planted here will long endure, and we will all be the worse for it.

It’s no use looking to our MP, Dan Rogerson, for any good sense. At long last, I have received from him a mildly patronising form letter which repeats the discredited mantras of the turbine industry and lards them with non-sequiturs and nonsense. A copy of the letter, and my reply to Mr Rogerson, is appended here. Reading it, one tends to think that Dan Rogerson has no real idea of what’s going on down here.

Despite the fact that I wrote to him specifically about the plague of individual turbines for which we are being forced to pay, Rogerson addresses the idea of wind farms, which he apparently would prefer to see offshore. He stresses that wind turbines are a planning issue, where decisions must be made locally, which completely ignores the fact that the Drake and Piper turbines were thrown out during the democratic process, only to be reinstated on appeal by an unelected bureaucrat answerable to no-one.

He makes the claim that many nations are increasing their use of wind power, while neglecting to mention that many more are dumping the whole unworkable nonsense. We must have turbines, he says, because foreigners may cut off our oil. Presumably his government will then command the wind to blow. He repeats what he said to us in our face-to-face meeting – that turbine subsidies are no cost to the taxpayer because the government imposes them on the electricity user! What, we asked, is the difference?

There are people in government who see the abject folly of the current situation; they will eventually prevail, but it will come too late for Cornwall.


Rogerson writes:

“Dear Pat,
Thank you for contacting me regarding your opposition to onshore wind farms.

I should perhaps begin by saying that as wind farms are a planning issue, I have no authority to intervene in individual cases, or even in Cornwall-wide strategy. While I may make my views heard, I will not be able to prevent the construction of a wind farm near where you live, even if I believe it to be wholly unsuitable. Planning is the preserve of Cornwall Council and it may be worth contacting the authority to put your views on record.

Wind plays an important role in the government’s energy strategy. As well as the clear environmental advantages of using renewable energy, it is important to the security and sustainability of the energy supply to have a diverse range of power generating methods. If the price of one method goes up dramatically or becomes completely unavailable – for example if the world were to run out of natural gases or if oil producing nations attempted to gain political concessions from the UK government by threatening to ‘turn off’ the oil supply then we need an alternative.

This is why more and more nations are increasing their use of wind power. Wind farms are not simply an inefficient means of power generation which allow landowners and investors to extort wealth from public funds. While there are subsidies for green energy, these are reduced as the technology becomes cheaper so they incentivise low-carbon electricity, but don’t run at a massive loss to the taxpayer. A full account of government energy strategy is available at www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm83/8362/8362.pdf.

It highlights the importance of offshore wind farms and outlines government plans to make offshore generation easier, thereby encouraging companies to do this instead of building large onshore wind farms. It is one thing to see turbines on a reasonably distant hill but quite another to have them close to your back garden. The natural beauty of Cornwall is one of the main positive factors affecting many people’s quality of life. Indeed, how could it not be when we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

When councils decide on planning applications for wind farms they must also consider the impact of the construction on local residents, the effect on local wildlife, the likelihood of significant noise pollution etc. These drawbacks are weighed against the positive impacts and decisions must be reached on a case by case basis.

I do not think wind farm planning should be controlled by national government, or indeed any central authority. The aim of such a move might be to protect a beautiful area of the countryside but the likely outcome will be their imposition in areas where the overwhelming majority of people do not want them, and could well require compulsory purchase orders to acquire the land. A piecemeal approach might have the drawback of a lack of overall strategy but I believe it takes a better account of local needs.

I have been in regular correspondence with the council and ministers on this issue and I will continue these representations until we can be completely confident in every aspect of the planning process.


Dan Rogerson”


I have replied:

“Dear Dan,
Your letter fills me with despondency. It will be a long time before you realise how badly you have let your constituents down. May I suggest you find out what’s going on by visiting the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group’s ‘Renewable Energy Day’ on December 5th, a ‘training day for landowners’ with expert lectures on grants and subsidies available for wind turbines, solar arrays etc. There you will find in one place the turbine salesmen, the Scottish agents, the middlemen, the profiteers and the landowners. The talk is of how, if you set up a solar array in your field, you get a handsome handout for them and you still claim your agricultural payment as well, because the land can theoretically be used for sheep! Of course, everybody wants to save the planet.

Cornwall is being turned into a forest of foreign turbines. About 1,000 new turbines are being applied for, and that’s just the start. In Withiel we have had three applications, one of which was granted by the County Council, and two refused. These have now been allowed on appeal – so much for the democratic process by which you set so much store. And of course, the Council has its snout in the trough deeper than anyone. Three more turbines are in the pipeline for this small parish, and a solar farm is getting retrospective planning permission. Withiel is changed forever. Greed and opportunism, dressed up as environmental concern, have won the day. Poisons have been planted that will sour Cornwall for generations. And for what? A vast propaganda exercise. Cornwall can’t produce wind energy when it’s needed, nor does it have the infrastructure to export it in meaningful quantities. Turbines are a drain on foreign currency, a plague on a landscape whose preservation has been the work of generations, and an attack on tourism and on property values. Despite the nauseating cant of the turbine companies, there is no justification for any of this. Unlike other generators, turbine owners are paid at their own meters, so it doesn’t matter to them that only a small proportion of the power that is produced ever reaches an end-user. When measured against power that is used, many of these turbines will never produce as much electricity as went into making them. Renewables surcharges mandated by your government now account for some 19 percent of all bills. Cornish householders are paying £50 million a year extra to fund wind turbines and solar panels. Many of them can’t afford to contribute so much to landowners, yet they are forced to do so for the next 25 years. We are debasing our people and despoiling our landscape, and the damage is utterly pointless at a time when the Chinese and Indians are opening a new coal-fired power station a week, each. Every turbine in Cornwall is a meaningless gesture, a three-fingered salute to our own people and a cash machine for those who don’t care what damage they do as long as there’s a handout in it. And despite your disclaimer, you are responsible for this.

Yours sincerely,

Pat Malone”