When Donovan sang of trying to ‘Catch the Wind’ in his 1960s song, its title was intended as a metaphor for the futility of attempting what was seen as impossible. Even though it hasn’t proved so, the capture of wind has proved less problematic than the ‘farming’ of it and all the associate costs that come with it. For if we don’t worry about how grossly ineffective wind farms are as a source of energy, as a source of pollution or that they are a blight on the landscape, so long as it is economically advantageous for people to erect the beasts whereever they see fit, so they will continue to do so.
As always, with any scheme that allows licence holder to profit by running a ‘farm’ in which the set up costs are covered and running costs non-existant, the pestilence will continue, creating forests of triffid-like arachnoids up and down the ups and the Downs unless common sense prevails. In many areas of the country, action groups have been set up to protest against the siting of wind farms, the most local being our own ‘Tolpuddle against Industrial Turbines’ (www.taint.org.uk) which is objecting to a number of wind turbines planned for an area in South Dorset made famous through the writings of Thomas Hardy. For all manner of reasons, economic, cultural, aesthetic, it is important that local objections are heard and that these decisions are revoked. For details, check the site!
No doubt, as with any of like issues when the idea of modernity clashes with heritage, there is the sniff of Ned Ludd about, the idea that Tolpuddle has seen martyrs before and that this next batch, they too, will have their day. Thomas Hardy, after all, was a Victorian writer who concerned himself with the disappearance of rural England and was as backward looking as his champions appear to be.
Well, not quite. Hardy, as we know, embraced change and progress in many of his novels, sometimes in their scientific setting, notably ‘Two on a Tower’, sometimes social, in his denunciation of marriage, sometimes religious, in his questioning of the established Church. He was not a writer to buttonhole and if the time for wind farms had come, he would not have been one to dismiss them without reason. But the reality is he would have found reason and he would have rallied against them as many in the County are doing.
There are various ways of supporting the campaign, but as this is a literary website, my first ever so slightly adapted reflection has to come from the pen of an acknowledged writer:
“Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty wind turbines that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”
The second and preferred option, (for I don’t advocate the first for fear of inciting violence against the machine – a crime that once carried a punishment greatly feared amongst New Zealanders of being sent to Australia) would be to log onto www.taint.org.uk and see what you can do.