Green energy drive's black mark
Just look at the map of all the wind turbine projects in Northern Ireland published in this newspaper today. It is essentially a rash of developments, pockmarking the entire landscape. The province rightly is known for its outstanding scenery but, in many instances, the view is spoiled by huge concentrations of turbines.
Invariably they are located in some of the wildest and hitherto unspoiled areas to take advantage of prevailing winds.
And with 2,428 projects given planning approval in the last 13 years and another 849 in the pipeline, it is little wonder that it is difficult to find a horizon which does not feature rotors whirling in the wind.
For some people this turbine blight is enough to condemn the wind farm industry out of hand. No-one can deny that they are a blot on the landscape, but many people would be prepared to accept their presence if it means less reliance on the fluctuating costs of diminishing fossil fuels to produce our energy needs. Yet for all their proliferation, there is no evidence to the consumer that electricity prices have been lowered by the input of this green energy into the national grid.
In recent times there have been suggestions that the people living near wind farms in Northern Ireland have been shortchanged with less money being put into local community projects by the wind industry developers than is the case in other parts of the UK. As well, some £140m has been paid out in subsidies to the renewable sector in the last three years.
Aesthetically and financially there appears to be little benefit to ordinary people from the widespread development of wind farms. It is accepted that we need alternative forms of energy supply, not only to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, but also to protect stocks of fossil fuels.
It is now up to the industry to prove to consumers that this form of green energy is to their advantage. If consumers can see that, perhaps they will turn a blind eye to the less pleasing aspects of the development.