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Wind energy 'a vital but normal part of our future'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 30, 2013

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, right, with fellow green energy supporter, actor Robert Llewellyn, at The Great British Wind Meal, held at the TV chef's Royal William Yard restaurant in Plymouth, as part of the conference

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The use of wind energy needs to be seen as "normal" TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall told a major conference on green energy.

The "real food" campaigner called on more farmers to introduce renewable technologies when he addressed the symposium at Mount Edgcumbe House, in South East Cornwall.

He said: "We need to move towards the approach that wind energy and turbines are fundamentally normal. It makes total sense," he added. "We need to encourage the media to see this as a vital but normal part of the future."

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said there had so far been a lack of "rationality" about the debate on wind power, with turbines still a thorny subject for some rural communities and sectors of the media.

But he stressed the debate should move on from simply talking about visual impact and said: "Wind power is here, it's not about where we have it, but how we use it in the most effective way."

He said it was important for farms and businesses already using wind energy to promote those "success stories" to encourage others to follow suit.

"Then we have normality," he said.

Mr Fearnley-Wittinstall, who opened his River Cottage Canteen and Deli in Plymouth's Royal William Yard in 2011, addressed about 50 industry experts, green campaigners and media representatives at the debate, entitled Reframing the Conversation, and chaired by Western Morning News editor Bill Martin.

Stephen Gilbert – Lib Dem MP for St Austell and Newquay and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Energy and Climate Change Secretary of State Ed Davey – opened the debate. He said there was a "legitimate debate" about wind energy and other renewable power, and said it needed to be seen in the "wider context of energy security and reducing bills" and climate change.

"It's about making sure we protect the planet for our children and create additional prosperity in our rural communities," he said.

Mr Gilbert told the debate wind power and green energy posed "challenges" for local authorities, the media, farmers and the wider communities. He said some councils had failed to deliver "clear policies for renewables" and called for a "better framework across all local authorities".

The MP also said the media should resist the "temptation" to focus on bad news stories, and look at "success stories" too. He said organisations like the National Farmers' Union should concentrate on telling farmers about the advantages of using green energy.

"We need to do more to make sure the development of renewables is integral in the debate on the rural economy," he said.

And he urged the public, generally, to think about energy usage.

All this, he said, would "protect the planet for future generations, create jobs and develop rural prosperity".

Also on the panel was Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of Renewable UK, the trade association working with green technology companies.

He stressed green energy was important to combat climate change and boost the economy. And he said wind energy was one way of combating energy cost problems caused by using wholesale gas supplies.

"Wind energy is a way we can get ahead of that curve," he said.

Nicky Conway, principal sustainability adviser at the not-for-profit Forum for the Future, said her organisation surveyed 700 farmers and found 38 per cent were using renewable energy. But she said it was mostly large farms using green power, and she urged smaller operations to become involved too.

Author and Bodmin Moor hill farmer Robin Hanbury-Tenison explained how he had introduced wind and solar power to his farm.

"I believe that any farm can do this," he said. "I don't regret it."

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  • johndavies  |  November 30 2013, 11:42PM

    Farmers like subsidy's, so why don't we guarantee farmers twice the cash they would expect from hosting a wind turbine…..for NOT having one. That way we could afford to - Invest in energy conservation, -Reduce energy bills, -Stop foreign companies taking our cash out of the country (without even paying tax), -Keep the landscape for tourism, -Invest in truly sustainable energy supplies. From a power engineers point of view…because wind & solar energy is so intermittent, it's loss would be a benefit as it would make the grid more stable, less spinning reserve would be required so energy costs would drop.

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  • sandman18  |  November 30 2013, 9:48PM

    Hugh you need to get a grip on reality if every farmer has a wind turbine it will be impossible for all the other electricty bill payers to subsidise it. So far this year all the wind farms/turbines have taken £1.4 BILLION pounds and that is just in the last 11 months how is it financially sustainable for the old, poor, people on benefits and most of the UK public to keep giving money for nothing to the large land owners/farmers... The public need to be told exactly what it is costing then lets see if they still think that wind turbines are value for money. Hugh looks smug whilst Robert looks like he has Krytens Stupid head on !!!!!!!!

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  • Pink_Diesel  |  November 30 2013, 9:00PM

    ///If you don't believe me, ask why your energy bills are sky-rocketing/// The enery bills are sky-rocketing due to the cost of oil and gas going up. The diesel in my car has sky-rocketed, and my car is diesel, not electric. The bottle gas for my cooker has gone from about £7 a bottle to £28 a bottle in fifteen years. That's not green cr@p pushing the price up.

    |   -6
  • Pink_Diesel  |  November 30 2013, 4:24PM

    ///If you don't believe me, ask why your energy bills are sky-rocketing/// The enery bills are sky-rocketing due to the cost of oil and gas going up. The diesel in my car has sky-rocketed, and my car is diesel, not electric. The bottle gas for my cooker has gone from about £7 a bottle to £28 a bottle in fifteen years. That's not green cr@p pushing the price up.

    |   -17
  • hensrule  |  November 30 2013, 2:19PM

    No mention in here that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's sister, Sophy, is listed on the internet as formerly Head of PR and Communication at Good Energy groups plc, which harvests subsidies from a number of wind farms around the UK. More recently she is down as Founder of SFW Communications, which states on its website that it has a 'particular expertise in renewable energy, we're seasoned campaigners with a great track record. And we're passionate about influencing real change and empowering organisations..'. It's appalling that Hugh is encouraging farmers/landowners to join in this wind 'energy' scam which is dividing communities, blighting the countryside and taking money from the energy bills of the vulnerable and elderly to bankroll the already well-heeled. A shockingly cynical ploy which appears to be reaching the end of its run, hence the sense of desperation.

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  • Free2opine  |  November 30 2013, 1:35PM

    Oh God, yet another "celeb"? trying to get into the limelight by making a crass comment. If ALL subsidies were cut for wind turbines,we could then concentrate all our money to provide reliable energy, that doesn't require a back-up supply, when the wind conditions are not perfect!!!!

    |   25
  • PAWB46  |  November 30 2013, 1:27PM

    What a complete load of green cr@p. What do cretins such as Huge Feathery Whipping Stock and the like understand about generating electricity? The wind turbine scam depends upon that other scam, the climate change scam, for its existence. The country is being ruined and bled dry by subsidising unreliable and useless wind energy to solve a problem which doesn't exist. No wonder there is massive fuel poverty. Anything with 'green', 'renewable' and 'sustainable' in its title is just part of the scam, as are 'saving the planet' and 'climate change'. Take away the subsidies and the wind turbine scam will disappear.

    |   21
  • rolandsmith  |  November 30 2013, 12:53PM

    What a load of wind — I can smell it from here. Every wind turbine has to have back-up from another source such as gas or coal, otherwise the lights WILL go out. This has nothing to do with saving the planet. It's a scam to stuff the pockets of farmers and the wind industry from OUR money. If you don't believe me, ask why your energy bills are sky-rocketing.r

    |   21