Friday, 11 October 2013

Sir Simon Jenkins on the uglyness of wind turbines in the English landscape

The Ardrossan wind park in Scotland. (image Wikipedia)

The British columnist, author and National Trust chairman Sir Simon Jenkins, who's book England's 100 Best Views has recently been published by Profileexplains in the Spectator why he has not included views of wind-turbine parks in his book:

I am asked how I could include the Ribblehead rail viaduct as one of the great views of England, yet not the wind-turbine arrays of Romney Marsh or Bodmin Moor. The answer is not hard. The viaduct, surely the grandest relic of the railway age and in the wildest stretch of England is less obtrusive than any turbine. It respects contour and lies in the valley bottom not the top. It is made of local grey stone and breaks no skyline. Turbines are invariably white, waving giants drawing the eye away from their surroundings. I am not insensitive to a turbine’s beauty, but the beauty of any structure must embrace its setting. I like cooling towers and even like the London Shard in an appropriate place (like Dubai). But appropriate means what it says. On Romney Marsh two dozen huge turbines now turn just a few hundred yards from the walls of the ancient town of Rye, dominating the view over the marsh. It is devastating, and all to make some local landowner a millionaire at public expense. Centuries of gently evolving landscape lie wrecked. I complained to a coalition minister and he could not see what I was talking about. These people would blow up the National Gallery if they got the chance.

What Sir Simon says about British politicians' lack of understanding for the countryside is regrettably true about politicians elsewhere, too:

Which makes even more baffling the modern politician’s lack of feel for the countryside. I doubt if Ed Miliband would recognise a blade of grass. He told his conference of something called a town’s ‘right to expand’ into the country, a right I can find in no political philosophy. David Cameron and George Osborne are no different. I enjoyed Private Eye’s spoof of them and their friends travelling to Manchester the other week by train and gazing bemused out of the window. Why were all these hills and fields and trees just lying about doing nothing, when they could be subsidised wind farms, Tesco warehouses and toytown estates?

No comments: