Wind power no cheap option

our Westminster coalition government is once again in turmoil, this time regarding the future of (industrial capacity) onshore wind turbines – a hugely controversial issue all over the United Kingdom.

Reputedly, the junior partners in the coalition (Liberals) have demanded that new energy minister John Hayes, a member of the senior partners in the coalition (Conservatives), be stripped of responsibility for renewable energy. All this hostility is reportedly because the Liberal energy secretary, Ed Davey, doesn’t like the fact that Mr Hayes had the temerity to speak for the vast majority of the UK when he noted that “Britain has had enough of turbines peppered across the country”.

While the term Liberal is one that would normally be associated with free speech and open discussion, it is illuminating that Mr Davey attempted to ban Mr Hayes from making his remarks public, while his Liberal colleagues reportedly demanded that Mr Hayes be sacked from his renewable energy responsibilities. It would seem that they continue to be neither Liberal, nor even Democratic, in practice.

While Prime Minister David Cameron has effectively backed his minister by appointing him in the recent reshuffle, Mr Cameron also noted: “We have got a big pipeline of onshore and offshore wind projects coming through. We are committed to those, but frankly all parties are going to have to have a debate about what happens once those targets are met.”

This approach may be confusing to most of us, because what Mr Cameron means is that he has no intention of changing the current policies towards industrial capacity wind turbines for the time being.

One may be reasonable in assuming that there is only an intention of creating sufficient discussions in the media to cover this blinkered approach from the coalition government, although its policies on wind turbine facilities have been fully supported by all major political parties, with the notable exception of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

The Conservatives may have 150 MPs urging the government to take a sceptical stance over onshore wind power, with comments stating that it is “extraordinary that turbines had been erected across Britain with little or no regard for the views of local people” and “that we can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities”.

However, can it really be said that Mr Cameron, with a father-in-law who makes around £1,000 per day from wind turbines, and a deputy PM, with a wife who earns a salary from a company director position on a wind generation company board, can ever be seen as truly independent on this hugely controversial issue?

The disingenuous point being made by the industrial wind generation industry and Labour energy spokesman Caroline Flint should be noted as they repeatedly claim that “onshore wind is the most developed and cheapest source of clean energy”, while they conveniently fail to point out that conventional power stations (coal, gas or nuclear) must be run in parallel with wind turbines to ensure that we have power when it is required and not just when the wind is blowing – hardly a cheap option.

If anyone is in any doubt about why energy bills are going up so much, not only is it to do with the enormous subsidies being paid for this supposedly carbon-free generation method, it is because we need to construct two infrastructure systems for when the wind does not blow.

While we are regularly informed of an expectation that many people are likely to die from fuel poverty this winter, one might be forgiven for asking if the world has gone entirely mad – and not just those pockets of excellence in the madness that forces us to pay for a dual infrastructure in the Westminster, Edinburgh and Brussels bubbles.

Steven McKeane

Ellwyn Terrace