Fiona Harvey What is it with wind farms?

On a recent visit to Drax, the biggest coal-fired power station in the UK, I was struck by the cluster of 12 wind turbines that have sprung up just beside the water-vapour belching cooling towers.

Wind turbines by Drax

Picture by Press Association

The wind turbines do not belong to Drax – the company prefers to lower its emissions using biomass – but make a striking picture, situated so close to the coal plant.

The local people hate them.

You might have thought that people who have lived for decades with an enormous coal-burning power plant in their backyard would think nothing of a few little turning blades. No so. The wind developers faced a barrage of local opposition to their plans.

“You wouldn’t want those on your doorstep,” one local man said. “They’re an eyesore.”

Most people wouldn’t want a huge coal-burning power station on their doorstep either – most people would find that much more of an eyesore and would worry far more about its health impacts, surely? But Drax locals don’t see it that way.

“The power station has been there for years. But the wind turbines are new,” the objector reasoned.

Local people have also been treated to a flood of literature “proving” that wind turbines are bad for your health. They cause all sorts of ailments, allegedly. And they are unsightly. And they don’t cut down on pollution.

One wind farm developer refers despairing to  “a huge campaign of misinformation” about wind power that has been spread by anti-wind campaigners. Once people have been subjected to this, it is very difficult to dissuade them.

Of course, rigorous scientific research into the effects of wind farms should certainly be carried out. But the evidence so far that wind turbines are harmful is far from conclusive.

Right next to a coal-burning power plant would seem like an ideal place for a wind farm. Not in Yorkshire, though.