Off shore Thames wind farm unsustainable

HAVING suffered a whirlwind of criticism from the climate change mafia for my last column, in which I expressed doubts about man being entirely responsible for global warming, I am almost reluctant to tackle another environment related story.

HAVING suffered a whirlwind of criticism from the climate change mafia for my last column, in which I expressed doubts about man being entirely responsible for global warming, I am almost reluctant to tackle another environment related story. Almost!

However, when I read that the Government has just approved a giant wind farm project in the Thames Estuary that will stretch over 90 square miles and consist of some 341 wind turbines as well as a further 100 turbines seven miles from Margate, I feel compelled to say my piece. The Chamber of Shipping has been quick to suggest that the decision has been “rushed” through the DTI, without proper consideration.

The Chamber is anxious about the turbines interfering with radar and about the environmental risk from a collision involving an oil tanker. Guidelines from the Maritime and Coast Guard agency about the minimum distance between wind farms and shipping lanes have, apparently, been ignored, jeopardising the safety of those using the estuary. More than 100 ships a day would pass close by.

Greenpeace, has welcomed the decision because, it simpered: “it is clean energy on a massive scale. It's a pioneering project and we need more of them.” I beg to differ and I am incredulous that Greenpeace can be so childishly simplistic in their policy on wind energy.


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Have they given even a minute's thought to the impact on the marine environment of drilling 341 holes in the seabed and filling them with concrete and metal? What about the hundreds of miles of cable that will have to be laid on the seabed to link all these metal monstrosities to land? How about the energy that goes into manufacturing turbines, which takes years to achieve payback?

Local fishermen are up in arms and they are right to be concerned as there will be significant disruption to fish shoals and spawning areas leading to serious reductions in catch rates. There will be long term changes to the water flow because of the disruption of the seabed profile and disturbance of organisms that live on or near the bottom substrate, all of which affect the availability of food for fish and shellfish. Then there is the affect on migrating birds - I could go on. It is high time that organisations like Greenpeace, which claim to be so dedicated to the protection of the environment, threw off their rose tinted spectacles regarding wind technology.

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Sadly, the rush to build turbines everywhere is symptomatic of a Governmental obsession that defies all common sense. Figures released earlier this month by the Renewable Energy Foundation show that land based turbines are, on average, only operating to 28% of capacity. The figures are more like 23% and 24% in Cornwall and Wales.

I am as interested in preserving the environment as anybody but I prefer a realistic approach, rather than wholesale environmental vandalism in pursuit of a green myth.

May I wish all EADT readers a very Happy New Year.

Jeffrey Titford is a UK Independence Party Euro MP for the East of England

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