Keith Wheaton Green speaks with such personal understanding and eloquence regarding our continued Denial of the most obvious. Is it really just total selfishness by a few who hold back everyone of us and generations to come after us ??
Someone in denial obviously can’t see the truth even when the evidence is all around them. I believe I have only been in denial once in my lifetime to date – when a loved one was dying but I refused to believe it even though everyone around me understood the truth. Obviously, denial has no impact on the inevitable. And so it is with climate change. It can be difficult to accept the truth when it affects cosy lives or world views. Change, or the perception that things will change can be uncomfortable.
I saw this discomfort last week when – yet again – I attended a planning determination for a wind farm in Dorset, this time on the outskirts of Dorchester. The proposed six large (giant?) turbines would produce the annual equivalent of Dorchester’s electrical consumption. That British paranoia with wind was on show yet again. Fifty three of us speakers (for and against) were each given a firm maximum of three minutes. Everything and everyone was polite and professional. The surprise for me was the fact there appeared to be more speakers in support than against the turbines. I haven’t seen this before. Again and again, speakers were passionate and eloquent. People of all ages – even several living in sight of the turbines – expressed a desire to see beautiful turbines. Comments included “turbine installation is reversible, climate change is not, our selfishness is leaving a poisonous legacy to our children, this is the last turbine application in Dorset and our last opportunity to do the right thing, landscape impact of the turbines is dwarfed by the new residential developments of Poundbury and Charlton Down.”
I think the floods of the last three years, the fact that the 15 hottest years on record were during the last 16 years and the uncharacteristically warm, daffodil blooming December 2015 has led to the penny having dropped. Dorchester seems to have a surprising wealth of well-informed people.
However, the planning establishment are wedded to the concept of “landscape harm” and their professional (?!) opinion was that this outweighed the benefit of renewable energy generation. The case officer spent most of his presentation time explaining that harm, with only a passing mention of the schemes benefits. I would say he was in denial of the benefits and the degree of public support. He was not alone. One speaker erroneously stated that there had been no global warming since 2000 and that wind turbine saved no carbon emissions because of the back-up generation required. There were many other statements made that were simply not true. Denial of reality to keep themselves in the cosy zone of their imagined reality.
Councillors had evidently already made up their minds and voted 6 to 3 to reject the application with little discussion. There is no prospect of an appeal to our wind turbine hating government.
Our government is also evidently in denial. Despite David Cameron speaking with apparent passion in support of the firm targets to reduce carbon emissions in Paris, and his statement that Britain was “already leading the way in work to cut emissions,” the current trajectory to reduce UK emissions is dire. Thanks to previous DECC ministers, Eds Milliband and Davey, we did indeed show leadership up until election of our current government. The introduction of the feed in tariff in 2009 and the renewable heat incentive in 2011 led to impressive expansion in renewables. Wind now regularly supplies around 14% of electrical demand (and is not as intermittent as you might think) and photovoltaics show up as a significant reduction of midday demand. (If you don’t believe me, have a look at the excellent gridwatch.templar website where you will find up to the minute and historical easy to understand data.) However, our current government cannot claim responsibility.
Here is a list of what they have done to halt our progress;
- Closed the Renewables Obligations 12 months early
- Closed the ‘Contracts for Difference’ (CfDs) to onshore wind (which aimed to support new investment in all forms of low-carbon generation and to offer price stabilization.)
- Removed Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) pre-accreditation and implemented a wholesale review of FiT with expectation that it could be scrapped entirely.
- Changed planning laws for Renewable Energy, making the rules significantly different from shale gas
- Removed renewable electricity from the Climate Change Levy (CCL) exemption
- Accepted that the whole of South West England has no grid access for renewable energy
- Removed tax breaks for small community-led projects.
And no one can deny that.