Tilting at windmills

Two images of distant windfarms taken in Spain last week (both rather poor images I’m afraid – partly the heat haze but largely the photographer).

These would keep Don Quixote busy for quite a while – both included more than a hundred individual turbines.

Now I know nothing about the environmental impact assessments that may or may not have been done on these windfarms but they looked pretty scary to me. And these are in a completely different league from most UK windfarms.

I hope that a lot of thought went into these and other sites and I hope they aren’t killing too many birds, as I am generally in favour of wind turbines in the right places. Were these the right places? I have no idea.

Their huge size made me wonder about the land ownership patterns in these areas – I think it would be difficult outside the uplands to find many sites in the UK where a single owner could possible even envisage windfarms of such size. Were these constructed on one land ownership?   Or through some cooperative venture? Or what?






Website Pin Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google StumbleUpon Premium Responsive


  1. Alex Milne says:

    I go mountain biking in Spain regularly, presently most of the way through the Transandalus mtb route. I fly back on Saturday, hoping to finish in about 1000km, 23000m of climbing and 4-5 weeks time. I often visit a couple of windfarms in a day, and as in this country scour about looking for bird remains if I'm close enough. At 72 I like excuses to stop. Never seen a downed bird, but I'm sure there are some, but surely do not affect the population a great deal. I'm often surprised at the large numbers of wind turbines about, and 100 is not unusual when near a windfarm.
    Plenty birds about everywhere, and seem to be welcome in the villages in huge numbers, but few mammals as they seem to be the target in Spain, not birds. I think many hunters like dogs to flush or bring the few mammals down as well, which gives me an opportunity to see flushed prey.
    My real regret about this type of "holiday" is that I'm not prepared to take good binoculars and a good camera due to the additional weight.

  2. Random22 says:

    I've never understood the hate for wind turbines, I quite like the look. I just wish they'd paint the blades something other than white. Can you just imagine them all painted in rainbows like the windmills on a sandcastle. I think it would look glorious. They only paint them white because it is supposed to help them blend in with the skyline and appease the haters, and the haters will never be appeased so why try at all. Paint them bright, we need the cheering up; especially in my part of Scotland.

    I must say, I've never seen the supposed mounds of dead birds at the foot of wind turbines here in Scotland than some of the anti-turbine lot claim they've seen. I have seen mounds of dead birds in gamekeepers and farmers stink pits though. I know I'd rather have turbines than grouse moors.

  3. Dave says:

    There are in the Highlands wind farms in the same league to the ones you've seen in Spain and there are many more under construction, with many more about to commence construction. Many of them in prime golden eagle habitat. Many of them on driven grouse shooting moors where they are a legal method for killing raptors.

  4. Paul V Irving says:

    We are told that the whole of the UK is windy enough to generate wind energy so why do and have we allowed them to intrude into beautiful and remote places far from where the power will be used to despoil with the ugly artifacts of man previously pristine (or as near as the UK gets) habitats and glorious views. That is vandalism of the worst kind, they should be in or adjacent to centres of population in landscapes we have already damaged.

    • Jonathan Wallace says:

      It is certainly not the case that the whole of the UK is equally viable from a wind generation point of view. The uplands are more consistently windy than other terrestrial locations which is, in large part, why they are chosen for wind farms.

      Whether or not that is sufficient justification for allowing them to intrude into beautiful and remote places depends on your point of view, I suppose, but it is worth recognizing that we have not yet discovered a way of generating large quantities of electricity without also causing substantial environmental impacts. We waste an awful lot of energy and could do much more to reduce the amount we need but we have to accept that the production of whatever amount we do use comes with ugly side effects whether they be wind turbines in the hills, dammed river valleys, fracking, open-cast coal mines, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from thermal power stations, radio-active wastes from nuclear power stations, etc. The best we can do is to minimize these impacts through appropriate siting, pollution controls, etc, etc, but if you rule out one form of generation you have to accept that some other form will have to replace it.

      • Random22 says:

        It would be nice if whatever they come up with next gets whacked down in the Home Counties and the Shires of Tory England, instead of everywhere else bearing the brunt of the downsides but that is probably a vain hope these days.

    • Random22 says:

      Here is the thing. The anti-wind turbine brigade has hyped these up as the very epitome of ugliness for so long that putting them up near any reasonably populous area generates a massive postbag of complaints to the planning department. Since they are not going to go away, and are pretty vital if you don't want to be dependent on Russia for gas to generate electricity, that leads to the windfarm developers putting them in more remote places in order to minimise the postbag. Less people living there, less complaints to be fought through the planning department (and more false hope in the target areas that these will bring jobs). That is the irony; if they hadn't been fought so vociferously in the first place and declared so ugly to start with, then they wouldn't be in as many of the remote places.


Leave Your Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>