Turbine Trouble

Not for the first time, people in Wales are going head to head with the presence of wind turbines and their related paraphernalia (pylons in this case) in the Welsh landscape. On the morning of the 24th of May, the Senedd steps were impressively swamped by individuals passionate about protecting their landscape from the dominating presence of steel giant pylons. The arguments presented have been fairly clear cut, the issue though is one tainted by guilt.

Whenever the wind turbine debate is presented, an increasingly aging argument spills out into the mainstream media. On one hand we hear the voice of the environmentalist, heavily beating the drum of planet saving enterprise. On the other, the oppressed local, whose home skyline is set to be invaded by triangular towers of bright white or dull grey. For those following from afar, we often struggle to reconcile our consciences with the issue at hand. Do we pursue a path that many argue vehemently will contribute to a necessary global effort that could save the planet, or do we say no to a invasive technology which, in a very visual way, has a massive impact on the very landscapes we are looking to preserve? Often the locals involved are painted as selfish idiots, only looking out for themselves, ‘not on my doorstep’ they are seen to cry. Perhaps that is not entirely unfair an assessment, and certainly some will argue on selfish grounds, but these landscapes are people’s homes, so who are we to lambast them for protecting what they hold dear on an individual level? The emotive angles to the debate are both crippling to rational debate, but equally unavoidable when the human element, directly impacted upon by the presence of turbines, is considered.

This current debate though seems imminently avoidable. The turbines are, for a change, not at the heart of the issue. The question is how to connect the turbines and the power they produce to the National Grid. Two options sit on the table, overland cable transfer supported by large metal pylons, or underground cable transfer. With the Welsh landscape being such a key component to the national economy, surely this is a no-brainer; underground must be the way to go? Although, as with pipeline projects, the landscape would for a time be opened up, afterwards the land would return to its natural state, unscarred above ground and offering all that is good about the Welsh landscape for the foreseeable future. Costings have been cited, with a mark-up of roughly £400million being the impact of underground options. Yet as we talk of the need, indeed the responsibility that we have to the environment, surely this additional cost is a small price to pay, as we look to play out part in preserving our natural resource at a global and a local level.

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