LETTERS From Stephen Jude Buggy, Cowes:
I have followed recent correspondence about wind farms on the IW.
(1) The scope and ideas behind wind power go nowhere near the idea of reliance on wind. Its purpose is to reduce the 'reliance’ on fuels that are market or politically driven, i.e. oil, coal, gas.
Through the use of technologies like wind turbines a power network can increase its fuel efficiency, much like driving a car more economically. We could achievably reduce our expensive fuel consumption by 25 per cent. This is the economic argument. There are also environmental arguments.
(2) The subsidies the wind industry and other renewable industries receive are real in order to develop the newly emerging technology. However, the oil and gas industry receives significant tax breaks.
The industry receives these breaks despite significant profits, inefficient management and historically poor environmental records. These industries were supported and subsidised significantly during the early years of oil and gas exploration. These subsidies were deemed necessary at the time in order to propel the necessary extraction technology forward.
In order to bring any new energy form to the masses, government backing is required because of the scale involved. Despite the oil and gas industries glut of cash and historical support the chancellor is creating new "generous tax breaks" to develop shale gas exploration in the UK.
(3) 'Traditional’ oil and gas exploration causes significant damage to its immediate surrounding area. Typically and fortunately these areas are usually out at sea, in the plain lands of Canada, Russia or the deserts of the Middle East.
Shale gas is different and requires more localised wells. Interestingly, the IW is a particularly attractive region for shale gas exploration. In order to achieve significant production, numerous wells are required.
There are also more significant arguments about hydraulic fracking and its ability to initiate 'earthquakes’ and pollute the local water table.
I note the government has granted fracking licenses for locations in the UK, including South and South West Wight.
Of course, we need to explore and develop any energy alternatives to our current methods. Wind is one of these, as are others, e.g. nuclear, solar, and tidal.
The future of our nation’s energy lies with a mixed source of energy which adds capacity, redundancy and once a technology is ready competition. To associate wind technology as quackery and promote dogmatic arguments is unreasonable and illogical when based on the facts.
Our future depends on technological advance and this necessitates energy innovation. It shouldn’t be forgotten wind is just a part of this innovation.
The wind industry is now finding that despite its ability to assist with the country’s energy dearth and energy inefficiency it is required to negotiate neo-political arguments against its implementation. Arguments that should be based on fact driven by need not emotion.
I find it disappointing that despite this Island having the ability to plug in to renewable energy and be self-sustainable in terms of energy consumption, having all the right attributes and despite the majority being in favour of alternative energy, there is still a significant anti argument against wind and other technologies being installed on or near the Island.
A vision of a self-sustaining Island may seem unreal or unattainable to others but it is a real possibility for this island. It is possible with today’s technology to create and consume electricity without destroying large landscapes, poisoning water tables, creating earthquakes, quarantining large habitable areas and killing endemic species.
Renewable energy can achieve this. We should be a shining light to the UK of a way forward a positive image for how the future can look.
From Nancy Ashton, Freshwater:
Betty Haunt shame: Unbelievable! The Island’s outstanding beauty has been betrayed by the very people entrusted to protect it, the AONB. Partnership.
Only recently our newly appointed tourism officer rated the Island’s beautiful unspoilt countryside as its main asset to tourism.
It’s a pity the AONB Partnership doesn’t agree — it should hang its head in shame! The action is unforgivable.