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Renewable Energy

Wind energy

Wind turbines have often been in the news in recent years. Some people love them, some hate them. Here are some reasons given by both sides.


  • They symbolise a responsible use of the countryside
  • They generate clean energy


  • They spoil the natural landscape
  • They kill birds and are a danger to the local ecosystems
  • The building of roads necessary to service them spoils local views.
  • They make a horrible low pitched noise that is impossible to live near.

Here are some ideas and questions to get you thinking about these points of view.

The “countryside”

What is “natural” about the countryside? Until the end of the middle-ages, the British countryside was covered in forests. It was people who cut these down, created fields and what we now call “countryside”. What we see today only exists because farmers plough, plant and harvest.

Question: The landscape has been altered fundamentally to suit human needs. Do a small number of people have the right to prevent further change as our needs change?


In the 18th Century the UK was covered in many thousands of windmills, which ground the nations flour. They were a central part of every community.

Question: If it was ok to cover the landscape with windmills once before, why do some people find it unacceptable today? What does it say about their view of what the countryside is for?

Killing birds

Any large man made structure will kill birds. Office blocks with mirrored windows are notorious for birds dying as a result of flying straight into them. If a wind turbine is placed somewhere such that rare birds are injured, why not put it somewhere else away from the birds?

In 2011, Dutch researchers completed a study to look at the actual effects of wind turbines as opposed to the claims made by those for and against. The results indicated that actually, offshore wind farms act as a wildlife haven and increase biodversity!

Question: Is poor choice of location a reason to dismiss the technology?


Next: Water power

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NOT RATED Daria 30-03-10 11:05
I think that you could paint the wind turbines so they BLEND IN! Thanks!

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Text equivalent:

Promoting what is best

How can we know what is best without trying it out? Renewable energy technology is so new that many of the consequences have yet to be discovered. Can we anticipate them all? Or do we take a leap of faith because they offer a good alternative to fossil fuels?
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Managing conflicts of interest

The countryside is both a place where people work and where they live. How can we responsibly manage the use of the land if these two needs come into conflict?
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The few versus the many

Do the wishes of the few who are affected by wind turbines outweigh the needs of the wider society for clean energy? Most of us don't have to live next to one, do we have the right to make that judgement?

Marshland St James

In this little village in Norfolk, divisions over a local wind farm have got so bad that half the village is up in arms against their neighbours. And one farmer involved was found dead in a ditch. Read more


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