Wind turbines are the most practical and cost-efficient source of
renewable energy available to the UK. That was the message of a recent
talk by Marcus Trinick QC, hosted by Transition Town Lewes at the
Elephant and Castle in April.

 

[pic caption]: Marcus Trinick QC outlines the case for windfarms.

Trinick, a leading lawyer in renewable energy, explained in his talk –
Growing Turbines: Planning for Windfarms – that the sums for generating
energy don’t add up without wind.  EU law means that the UK will
effectively need to more than double its renewable electricity share to
30 per cent by 2020, with the bulk likely to come from onshore and
offshore windfarms, he said.

Onshore wind is one of the cheapest
renewable sources available, costing £80 per megawatt hour compared to
£140 for nuclear power, for example (not to mention the far shorter lead
times for setting up a windfarm compared to a nuclear power station).

But he added that political backing for renewable energies such as wind
is likely to be driven more by fears about energy security than
environmental concerns. “Governments are increasingly concerned about
keeping the lights on. Generating power from wind means you aren’t
beholden to Russia or the Middle East,” he said. 

Trinick also
touched on the difference in regional attitudes in the UK to wind
energy. Many communities in Scotland and Wales calculate the benefits to
their community from wind farms, from business rates to an assured
local energy future – and Scotland in particular enjoys being seen as a
leader in the sector.

In the South-East, fear of turbine noise
has been more of an issue, as regularly featured in the Sussex Express
letter pages.  However, says Trinick, of the 400 wind farms in the UK,
only 20 have received complaints and only one case of nuisance has been
proven.

Local issues were to the fore in the discussion, with
questions about the planned offshore wind farm at Newhaven and the
potential for community-owned turbines.  The debate, within a few miles
of the famous Glyndebourne turbine, was lively at times.  One of the
most vocal opponents of wind-farms mentioned that his preferred energy
alternative was fracking of shale gas, which could have started a whole
new evening’s debate.

In a vote of the 50-strong audience that
attended the talk, only two people said they were actively against the
idea of wind turbines on the South Downs.

View the Powerpoint presentation here…