Lost Horizons

by | Nov 5, 2012

I’ve been a bit busy for blogging lately. It happens. One of the things I’ve been working on is this film produced for the EFD group, starring UKIP chairman, Steve Crowther.

The Lost Horizons website is here.

One of the criticisms that the film got elsewhere (amongst much more support, I should add) is that it reflected some ‘Nimby’ concerns. I have to say, I don’t recognise this criticism at all.

I’ve never been particularly moved by arguments against wind farms about protecting the countryside. I think turbines are ridiculous machines that need policy to make them ‘work’, and I think they’re unsightly. But I’m an urbanite, quite content in concrete carbuncles (though I certainly enjoy the occasional stroll and stay in the great outdoors). That’s not to say I don’t care about what happens in the countryside or to people who live there. It is a sufficient argument simply to observe that so many people don’t like turbines, and that to make any significant contribution to the energy supply, so many turbines will be needed. Of course, however, sometimes things need to be built where people don’t want them to be built. But the value of wind farms is so questionable, I don’t believe the ‘greater good’ argument counts in the wind energy debate. Few people would be over the moon about a new coal-fired power station being built near them, but as is pointed out in the film, just one such power station could do the job of all of those wind farms. A power station like Drax can produce double the amount of electricity that all of the UK’s onshore wind turbines can produce. Such are the benefits of centralised power generation and a distribution grid. It means we don’t all need to burn stuff in our houses. Clearly, the current and previous governments have been more terrified by the possibility of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth protesting as turf is cut for a power station than they are concerned with meeting the UK’s energy needs.

The ridiculousness of wind turbines is simply the manifestation of ridiculous policies, which are in turn the product of a ridiculous form of politics. Over-emphasis on wind farms, I believed, missed the point of what happened ‘upwind’. Then I began to meet lots of wind farm campaigners a few years ago. I’ve now met many. To date, I don’t think I’ve met a single ‘Nimby’.

Nimbyism is a reactionary impulse, concerning a given development, regardless of the wider benefits that it will bring. In fact, however, each of the people I have met have asked precisely the question that is necessary to overcome selfishness — what is the greater good that wind farms are supposed to serve. People discover for themselves that the benefits are not as claimed. The depth of knowledge that wind farm campaigners demonstrate about their subject — knowledge of the law, of policy, of generating electricity and of climate science — is phenomenal. Criticism of policies and policymakers cannot be waved away with such a cack-handed pejorative as ‘nimby’. And far from protecting their own, many wind farm campaigners sacrifice a great deal of time and resources.

But what about nimbies? If we cast our mind back to the roads protests of the 1990s, it was the environmentalists who teamed up with nimbies against the development of roads. It’s a curious thing that as the environmental movement grew, the establishment absorbed it. It heeded protests not just against roads, but against power stations too. Being a nimby is good when the nimby is against a road or an airport, and bad when it’s against a wind farm. An absurd level of self-contradiction was reached a few years ago, when the then government’s plans for ‘eco-towns’ was being challenged by nimbies, their complaint being that the proposed developments weren’t sustainable enough.

Perhaps this all points to the inadequacy of the word ‘nimby’. If you don’t want to live near a road, power station or wind farm, surely that’s as good a reason as you need to challenge the argument for their construction near you — to ask why it was necessary, rather than take the claims that it is necessary at face value. And it should motivate better arguments in favour of such developments. But the debate about the UK’s energy supply has never happened. Policies were dictated at the UN and EU, and the MPs who represent us in Westminster deferred responsibility to technocrats in quangos like the Committee on Climate Change, which were stuffed full of believers. Rather than confronting opposition to wind farms, DECC ministers like Ed Miliband decided it would be better to engineer values, to make being against wind farms as ‘socially unacceptable’ as not wearing a seat belt.

Meanwhile, many anti-wind campaigners actually still share much of the green agenda. I’ve had long discussions with many of them about it, in which nobody has tried to force the point by making the other ‘socially unacceptable’. Many campaigners are concerned about climate change. But the installation of wind farms has opened their eyes to the strange politics that lies behind their construction, and to the alarmist excesses of the environmental movement. Wind energy companies are meeting a political demand, not a demand for electricity. These are the things wind farm campaigners talk about. The wind farm debate is about much more than what happens in people’s backyards. Hence, resistance to wind farm developments is portrayed as preoccupation with one’s own interests. To admit otherwise would be to admit to the debate that there is a problem with UK and EU policies, and the politics behind them. There is no such thing as a ‘nimby’ in the wind farm debate.


  1. Otter

    I live in the Niagara region of southern Ontario. The liberal MP, McGuinty (otherwise known as McGuilty), pushed green power in this region- and there is a chance that well over 200 wind towers are going to go up across the region, including a small group less than a mile from my home. And another one in the east, right where I’ve taken many great sunrise pictures.

    The whlole region is covered with Stop The Windfarm signs, and we plan to get a set also.

    We don’t recognize nimby, either. We recognize maintaining the landscape and people’s health.

  2. Alex Cull

    Results from a recent YouGov survey about wind farms, just in:

    “Four in ten (40%) people believe that the Government should prioritise preserving scenic wild land from large commercial wind farms, even if this means there is less opportunity to develop wind power in those areas.

    40% of Britons say scenic land should be protected from large wind farms.
    In comparison, over a quarter (28%) think the Government should prioritise building commercial wind farms, even if this means some are placed on scenic wild land.

    Even in Scotland, where wind power has been promoted as having potentially large economic benefits, more people favour the protection of picturesque landscapes than developing wind power.

    37% of Scots say the Government should preserve scenic wild land from large commercial wind farms, compared to three in ten (30%) Scottish people who think building wind farms should be prioritised.”

  3. Geoff Chambers

    Congratulations on the film, which is very good.
    It’s certainly upset Leo Hickman.
    He’s chosen one researcher, for one Euro MP, and is querying what that one researcher does for his taxpay-funded money, in an immensely long article which seems to have no point other than to try to deprive you of an income.
    The vilest Grauncrawlers are out to get you in the comments. Barry Woods is the only one defending you.
    I committed suicide at CiF when my last avatar dropped her usual high tone to point out what a miserable snivelling little shit Hickman is (Ican’t remember what it was about ). It would be nice if those who haven’t been banned couldtell Hickman – politely – what they think of his McCarthyite campaign.

  4. Shellie Correia

    I also live in the Niagara Region. It is a disgrace the way the residents are being treated. NIMBY stands for NEXT IT MIGHT BE YOU! I have sent letters to gov’t, schools, MOE, and everyone else I can think of explaining that my son has neurological problems and the noise from these 3mw turbines would be devastating for him to have to deal with. We intentionally moved to the country from Hamilton to get away from industrial areas. I have lost a 16 year old daughter and 19 year old niece to cancer, so our genetic predisposition to toxins and carcinogens is not imagined. My son’s specialist wrote a letter to accompany mine, admonishing anyone who would put up turbines in an area that close to residences, but especially to children, whose brains are still developing and therefore susceptible to negative environmental stimuli such as the noises emitted by turbines. No one will even respond other than to say someone else “should” be “looking into” the matter. Which apparently means it is someone else’s job to slough me off. I will keep on “annoying them until I get a decent resolution, such as ” they smarten up and admit this was a bad idea”. Ya, right. We are going to have to turf these idiots out, and the sooner the better. We must make sure the next party KNOWS the truth about greed energy, and respects the rights of the communities to self-govern in these matters.

  5. Paul Matthews

    Geoff, Leo Hitman’s article caused some fun on twitter. Here’s a selection:

    Climate Resistance ‏@clim8resistance
    Leo Hickman thinks £2000 a month is something to write home about.
    Barry Woods ‏@BarryJWoods
    If I write any more stuff on scepticblogs,should I expect guardian journo’s 2 come sniffing round my bins/employer?
    Climate Resistance ‏@clim8resistance
    It take a pretty dim brain to think there’s something odd about democratic representatives having researchers.
    Adam Corner ‏@AJCorner
    An expose of UKIP spending and the role of climate sceptic researcher/campaigner Ben Pile by @leohickman
    James Delingpole ‏@JamesDelingpole
    OMG. Major scandal breaking courtesy of Guardian. Seems UKIP has been paying researchers to RESEARCH STUFF!!!
    James Delingpole ‏@JamesDelingpole
    In tomorrow’s Guardian Environment from their investigations team: warm weather causes snow melt; Pope Catholic; Polar bears shit on ice…
    Dont Sue Me ‏@grandsmalls
    @JamesDelingpole @AJCorner I’ve just chopped off my own bollocks in protest!
    James Delingpole ‏@JamesDelingpole
    @grandsmalls @AJCorner Thank God someone is treating this SCANDAL with the respect it deserves. In solidarity I’m chopping my balls off too.
    A Birch ‏@ATBirch
    @JamesDelingpole @AJCorner Politician employs researcher out of budget for that purpose shocker!
    Josh ‏@Cartoonsbyjosh
    Amazing! @JamesDelingpole researcher paid for doing research? What next? Workers paid for work? Gasp
    Alex Kearns ‏@alexkearns
    @JamesDelingpole @clim8resistance @LeoHickman It is like Saville and Watergate rolled into one. Leo must be so proud.

    Now James D has a blog on it. Anyway, it’s all good publicity for Ben and his blog and his film. Thanks Leo.

  6. Jack Hughes

    Great film – thanks for making it.

  7. Richard

    Great. But I hate the photo-op on the front page of the site: “…say it will reduce CO2 emissions” along with a picture of steam rising out of (nuclear?) cooling towers. Double fail? Steam not CO2? Nuclear plant not coal/gas?

  8. Ben Pile

    The cooling towers are from Didcot, which burns coal and gas. I circled the site twice, and couldn’t find a (safe) place to get a fairly close up shot of the towers and the stack. And besides, the stack wasn’t producing much at the time — as you can see at 26.14 in the film. The shots in the film, from where the image was taken, have the cooling towers in context, with the stack. I had to get further away for the stack emissions to be visible. But such a wide shot didn’t fit with the scheme.

    To my knowledge, none of the currently-operating nuclear power stations in the UK use those kind of cooling towers.

    Double fail back at ya.

  9. Innperlenburg

    Translated from the German from:

    ‘An Interview with author and climate researcher Harmut Bachmann (Author of Die Lüge der Klimakatastrophe’) with Infokrieger News’.

    “Since the birth of the IPCC 25 years ago, a world climate catastrophe has been proclaimed under considerable fanfare, without it being followed up by a question: Who, why, where, when, to whom and for whom was the order given to install the IPCC, later? Obviously this is not supposed to be known. So the next age-old question follows automatically: cui bono – who benefits?…

    The idea to commercialize the Germany-coined word “climate catastrophe” was born in 1986 in the U.S. An approaching disaster engenders fear. Fear accompanies people from birth to death. To overcome their fear, people are willing to do anything.

    The instigators came up with the idea to commercialize the word “climate crisis” and to develop it into a “gigantic, long lasting business”. So, to create a global business out of fear, an organization was needed. This was the IPCC. Next it was spread abroad that all the developed nations were deeply in debt. In this way, the IPCC was given the following two political tasks before its foundation:

    First Finding: that the world is approaching a climate catastrophe.
    Second Finding: that man himself is responsible for this disaster.

    As evidence that humans cause climate catastrophe, it was claimed that their lifestyle produces too much CO2. This had to be backed up by numbers. These numbers had to be prepared. They were then collated by the IPCC and ended up in the “World Climate Report”. The ‘doctored’ results have been predicting a global climate catastrophe for many years.

  10. Graham

    The other way of looking at NIMYISM is, who is going to look after your back yard if you dont yourself? I was involved a couple of years ago in protesting a pumped-hydro dam proposed for my valley. Nearly everyone opposed it because of the impact on the local environment, possibly on tourism, but mainly concerns over the environmental impact on the upland peat-bogs and risk to the river in case of silt run-off from the construction process. General inconvenience caused by heavy trucks on tiny lanes for anything from 6mnts to 3 yrs alos played a part. I think the thing that swung most people against the development though was a strong sense that the company involved was trying to hood-wink farmers and local land-owners into signing away rights of access and that there would very likely be wind farms coming along later.
    I often wondered, how would it be different if it were a shale gas well instead? Similar amounts of disturbance and enviro impact, but for much greater benefit in terms of cheap energy and local jobs. I have siad to my neighbours that I would find it much harder to object to this, and though few would agree, I do think tangible benefits to the local community would change the debate and possibly lead people to drop their NIMBY-ism. In contrast, the hydro seemed to deliver no local benefits apart from a couple of bribes to the local community groups, zero jobs, and was just a money-machine for the land owner cashing in by pumping uphill with cheap night-rate electricity- all this promoted as “Green” energy!



  1. Bigger than Watergate! Bigger than Savile! Fearless Guardian Environment investigator exposes worst scandal in history!!! – Telegraph Blogs - [...] best thing of all to emerge from it is this superb film he has made on the horrors of…
  2. The Horrors Of Offshore And Onshore Windfarms | UK Independence Party In Essex - [...] – possibly the only fruitful use of EU funds – ever. The best thing of all to emerge from…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.