Monday, 27 February 2012

Red Kites and Wind Farms




There are now fewer breeding pairs of Curlews in Wales than Red Kites; much food for thought. A great army of wind turbines lowers my spirit as I drive through the uplands. The conflict is not just between destroying the landscape in return for cleaner energy, but the effect on wildlife. Birds striking turbine blades, towers or power lines have become a real problem and since upland areas are a preferred location for wind farms, breeding waders such as Curlews are at risk. Roads destroy wilderness; here as in many parts of upland Britain, they break the natural drainage lines in the peat. I turn onto a purpose made thoroughfare cutting the hillside in two and get closer. The sheer size and presence of these monsters is intimidating and alien to this age-old landscape and I wonder what we’re doing to this beautiful island. I can see for miles from up here, but must search to find an unspoiled view. There are plans to place wind farms offshore and as yet the effects of this on the marine environment are not really known. I despair at the thought of looking seaward, searching for an unspoiled horizon.

Our quality of life can be measured in many ways and the natural beauty of our islands scores highly. Modern living requires consumption, but in the end this means expensive energy. I wonder about the turbine’s carbon footprint, which in the long term may be more than the energy produced. How do we balance this against the destruction of our landscape, which is such a vital part of our heritage? The debate continues, more wind farms appear, but we don’t really know if this small contribution to our energy problem is worth the cost.

On Twitter, I read of wind energy projects in every part of the world and the myriad of companies joining the bandwagon. I know we must move away from a carbon economy to one based on renewables, but wind farms need to be huge to have any real impact and I wonder if the benefits here in the UK are cost effective. I hear of great advances in the efficiency of solar cells; maybe in a very short time they’ll be good enough to provide us with the equivalent energy so that we can save our Curlews and the unique landscape that is the British Isles.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting these beautifil images and for the information on wind farms. When ever I see wind farms I always think of how many birds are lost because of them. It is very sad.

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  2. Beautiful movement in the Kite images Derek and Chris, but that's a staggering fact - more Kites and Curlews - wow.

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  3. The thought of losing these gorgeous birds, Red Kites, Curlews, and other waders to wind farms saddens me so ...

    Spectacular in-flight images!

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  4. You might qualify for a new government sponsored solar program.
    Find out if you are eligble now!

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