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Conference will explore if wind power is the new 'crop'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 29, 2013

Industry experts, campaigners and farmers will attend today's conference, which will look at how agriculture can exploit wind power to create a more sustainable, self-sufficient business

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Wind should be regarded as a new "crop" to be harvested by Westcountry farmers, a major conference on green energy will be told.

RenewableUK – the trade body for the UK wind and marine renewables sector – has brought together industry experts, campaigners and farmers for today's event at Mount Edgcumbe on the banks of the River Tamar in Cornwall.

Titled "Reframing the Conversation", the meeting will focus on how agriculture can exploit wind power to create more sustainable, self-sufficient business and food with a smaller "carbon footprint".

Among the speakers will be well-known broadcaster, food campaigner and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who is later hosting a meal using produce from farmers utilising wind energy.

"Wind power is an exciting and constantly evolving technology with amazing potential and we need to be open-minded and creative when looking at the best ways to produce and use it," Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said. "The idea of seeing it as an additional 'crop' for farmers is an intelligent and timely one, and that's why I'm delighted to be part of this RenewableUK event."

Large, commercial wind farms have been hugely controversial in Devon and Cornwall in recent years, with hundreds of turbines now spanning the landscape. Hundreds more are already at some stage in the planning system.

Across the UK there are more than 20,000 small and medium size wind turbines which are used by farmers and small businesses to create their own sources of power, and reduce their energy bills.

Analysis has shown that two thirds (64%) of small and medium wind turbines are installed on farms with 40% of farmers are now using some form of renewable energy, offsetting their production costs.

A third (30%) of farmers opting to "diversify" into green energy generation are choosing wind turbines.

Paul Cottington, environment adviser for the National Farmer's Union (NFU) in the South West, said about a quarter of the inquiries to the Farm Energy Service were about wind power.

He said: "The NFU strongly endorses farmers diversifying into many kinds of renewable energy which can support profitable agricultural production, with a particular preference for farmer-owned small-to-medium scale projects such as single wind turbines."

Today's event is also being sponsored by energyshare which has an existing network of 1,100 community energy groups across the country.

Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund programme, it is a an online group which supports communities in building social, environmental and financial sustainability in energy.

Today's debate will be addressed by St Austell and Newquay Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert as well as Nicky Conway, principal sustainability advisor at Forum for the Future, and explorer and farmer Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who lives near Bodmin, in North Cornwall.

The following discussion "How do we win the wind debate?" is being chaired by Western Morning News editor Bill Martin.

Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK who will also address today's meeting, said: "Today's Great British Wind Meal highlights just a few of the many British farmers and food producers using wind power to reduce their energy bills, lower their carbon footprint, and in many cases provide a vital source of income.

"The stories showcased here demonstrate how living in one of the windiest nations in Europe is an opportunity to be embraced, providing both economic and environmental prosperity.

"I hope their positive experiences encourage other farmers to take advantage of this home-grown asset."

He said the event was making "a tangible contribution to the UK's clean energy revolution".

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  • Cara27  |  December 01 2013, 7:37AM

    Just to add, the cost of energy produced by wind is incredibly expensive once all the related costs, i.e. turbine production, transportation, installation, maintenance are fully included. However, what is not taken account is the fact that wind is an intermitant energy source, ie the costs of having coal and gas powered stations on stand-by to supply power when the wind isn't blowing sufficiently. Having conventional power stations operating at what's called 'spinning reserve' level is the most costly - far more expensive than normal operational levels. (In Germany, it became so costly that many were operating at an unsustainable loss and were shut down. Now that they realise they can't function without having this back-up supply, they are busy building 20 new ones - more cost.) What is also not taken account of is the fact that the more wind energy supply you have, the more unstable the grid becomes, increasing their operational costs, (not to mention the constraint payments that are being made for when the grid needs turbines to be turned off!) There is also never any mention of the fact that wind energy is a dispersed energy source - ie the turbines that generate the energy are often located at great distances (offshore etc) from where that energy is required, meaning that transferring that energy is hugely expensive in terms of cabling etc, and means that a lot of the power is lost during transfer. The amount of useable energy is reduced, making it yet more expensive. And what about the fact that wind energy simply takes up so much more land than conventional power sources, ie coal, gas or nuclear? A recent Dept for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) info-graphic that appeared on the government's own website showed that in order to produce the same amount of energy, wind turbines will take up over 500 times more land space than the newly proposed Hinckley Point C nuclear plant. (Needless to say the info-graphic disappeared within 24 hours due to 'sensitivities' according to a DECC spokesperson, but it was nevertheless spotted and redistributed.) In short, the cost of producing energy by means of wind turbines is the most expensive means possible, and wind still isn't capable of powering a modern, industrial society on its own. The cost of energy underpins everything in our society; the cost of all the goods we buy, the cost of running a home, the cost of running public services like the NHS, education, police, fire department, the cost of running a private business. And when we become uncompetitive in a global market, we all lose out. In short, it isn't just the heating bills we have to pay for, it's the cost of everything, and the wind industry has been far less than honest about this issue, thinking only of what they have to gain. It really is time for all politicians of every stripe to wake up to what they are doing and call a halt before the whole economy collapses.

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  • hensrule  |  November 30 2013, 6:57PM

    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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  • sandman18  |  November 29 2013, 11:38PM

    Wake up people of course farmers think its a great idea to have a sodding great wind turbine on their land because they then get all their electricty paid for by every other electricty bill payer in the area inculding their family, friends and neighbours and whilst they are driving around in their brand new 4X4 they have just bought with the thousands of pounds of YOUR MONEY you are all struggling to pay your electricty bill and freezing your nuts off!! I am sorry to say this but farmers who agree to have wind turbines on their land are just sodding parasites living off the backs of everyone else and appear not to give a damn about the old people who are dying because they cannot afford to turn their heating on. SO WAKE UP PEOPLE and start complaining to your TDC and get a stop to any more farmers emptying your bank account through some misguided belief that he is helping the environment. Start telling anyone you know about this scam and tell them how they get money for doing sod all and it is your money!!!! God it makes me seethe.................

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  • Nikgee  |  November 29 2013, 5:13PM

    So called green power is anything but! Wind farms are an eyesore, noisy and generally not cost effective. They don't work in low or high wind situations. Most of the time the things don't work and are constantly needing maintenance, which isn't cheap! And yet we have been paying for these things through "green taxes" yet we still pay the exorbitant electricity bills (a case of making, having and eating ones cake and paying for every step of the way!). It is time these ugly monstrosities were removed and a better way of generating this power. Britain is an island surrounded by something that is guaranteed to work any time of the day, any day of the year and regular as clockwork.... Tides. Now if only we could get energy from clouds....

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  • PAWB46  |  November 29 2013, 3:46PM

    The wind "crop" is a complete load of what is now known as "cr@p". What does Huge Feathery Whipping Stock know about energy? Take away the subsidies and the wind industry would go back towhere it belongs, in being a museum. Also we would have reduced electricity prices and lower levels of fuel poverty. The wind industry is just a huge scam. Farmers should have as big a carbon footprint as possible, because carbon dioxide is food for plants. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at a dangerously low level. Plants evolved when there was several times as much in the atmosphere and they struggle to grow with today's low concentration.

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  • IvorWard  |  November 29 2013, 12:48PM

    As always they studiously refrain from mentioning the giant elephant in the room. Who, exactly is paying for this latest boondoggle? Surprise surprise....It is not the farmers, it is not Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, it is not Maf Smith. Read this: "RenewableUK – the trade body for the UK wind and marine renewables sector – has brought together.....etc." Yes, exactly. The trade body for the wind turbine sellers and manufacturers trying to push more of their highly subsidised product on us before the bubble bursts. So Renewables UK pay for the lunch for the piggy's, but every single electricity bill payer will be picking up the tab for the latest in a long list of subsidies to go to farmers and land owners. The very old struggling to keep warm will be paying, the sick will be paying, the poor will be paying. People scrunched up in blocks of flats will be paying, meanwhile this bunch are having a nice lunch cooked by a gullible TV chef , paid for by the turbine sellers. Good job none of them have a conscience.

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  • moorejohn  |  November 29 2013, 12:00PM

    This is going on all over the "Western world" and is the biggest scam in history. First -- the idea that Britain is the windiest place is tosh -- it blows hard enough for less that one third of the time in most of the country and the SW figure for last year was 17.5%. Look at the hourly record on the Met Office website http://tinyurl.com/op6yjnz --- The developers of these things make absolute fortunes from subsidies and will say anything to get landowners on side. Every day there is a list of applications and how villages have been torn apart by disputes on the 'National Wind Watch' website which is published in the USA but reports on news all over the world. Do look. In this country 'Country Guardian' has a website with more local incidents. The same thing happens in governments of course. The are likely conflicts of interest in the members propounding the 'greenness' of these things. As to Solar Farms -- it is a disgrace that good agricultural land is not used for growing crops -- including grass for livestock. There are photographs on the web showing the things abandoned and the ground laid waste. Oh..... and as far as Global Warming and alleged Rising Sea Levels are concerned look at the 'Watts up with that' Website whose organiser is the very knowledgable Anthony Watts -- (no, it's not funded by the oil and coal producers who can sell all they can produce anyway). I very much hope that the Editor of the Western Morning News will read this; perhaps who ever does read it will bring it to his attention -- he has written critically on the subject in the past.

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