I hope this blog doesn’t seem to be scraping the barrel by commenting on articles in the free newspapers which appear through my door every week. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Casper’s reprieve, an article in the Chelmsford Weekly News. My inspiration today is taken from a rival publication, the Chelmsford and Maldon Yellow Advertiser, Thursday 13th July 2006. As the web page I have linked to gives only a few facts about the newspaper, and is not an online edition, I need to retype part of the article which caught my attention.
In fact I am writing this largely for my blogging friend Tim Chesterton, who was brought up in the area of this church, and recently wrote about it in the ongoing novel on his blog. But this might be of interest to others as well.
NO TURBINES AT CHURCH
THE COUNTRY’S oldest church will remain undisturbed in its isolated coastal position after plans for a wind farm nearby were turned down.
Maldon District Council threw out the application for 10 turbines to be installed at Hockley Farm, Bradwell, last Thursday, because it would “significantly detract from the setting of the church.”
Historic St Peter’s-on-the-Wall dates back to the 7th Century and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Members decided npower’s scheme for 10 turbines – each 121 metres high with three-bladed rotors – plus ancillary equipment and a sub station would be too intrusive for the rural Dengie Peninsula site and ancient chapel. …
The site for the rejected wind farm seems to be about a mile from the historic chapel. At about the same distance from the chapel stands Bradwell Nuclear Power Station, now closed and being decommissioned, but still standing as a large and ugly cube of concrete, in some ways far more visually intrusive than graceful wind turbines.
In response I am sending the following letter to the Yellow Advertiser, for possible publication:
The rejoicing in Bradwell at the rejection of a wind farm may be short lived. For the more people find reasons to reject energy from renewable sources like wind, the more pressure there will be to build more nuclear power stations. Bradwell will of course be a prime site for a replacement nuclear plant, and after the government’s latest U-turn Maldon District Council may well not be allowed to reject it. I’m not sure whether a wind farm a mile or so from St Peter’s Chapel would be more or less visually intrusive than a power station at a similar distance, but only one of them would also bring the threat of a Chernobyl style meltdown which could make the whole district, indeed much of Essex, uninhabitable. If we don’t want to take that risk, we need to make full use of the power we can get from the wind.
In researching this I also found the websites of the company proposing the wind farm, a campaign against the it (I note that their doctored picture is carefully angled to avoid the power station) and a campaign in favour of it, also a blog which is mostly opposing the campaign against.
I also found an article by my own MP, John Whittingdale, in which he suggests that the proposed wind farm would generate half of the power output of the nuclear power station. But he seems to reject this as “relatively little energy”. Yes, it would need more than ten wind turbines to replace the nuclear plant. But I would rather see hundreds of wind turbines dotted around the Essex coast than face the risk of it becoming an irradiated wasteland.
I am glad to say that Whittingdale’s opposition to wind turbines is not shared by his party leader, David Cameron, who is installing a wind turbine on his own home. It remains to be seen whether Cameron’s green leanings will be strong enough to defeat the instinctive NIMBYism (“Not in my back yard”) of so many of his party’s supporters. But an alliance between him, the Liberal Democrats and the many anti-nuclear Labour MPs must be this country’s best hope to avoid a potentially disastrous return to nuclear power.