Yes to Hydro, No to Wind

The National Trust is heavily involved in renewable energy. Sir Simon Jenkins, the NT chairman, said recently that most of the Trust's renewable energy resources for the foreseeable future would be hydro-electric plants, especially in Wales. The Trust has access to many miles of rivers, and properties which were once water mills.

The Trust is aiming to cut energy use by half in the next 8 years (by 2020) which will be equivalent, in fuel use terms, to taking 4,500 cars off the roads.

Sir Simon also spoke strongly against further investment in wind turbines. He said that wind is the least efficieient renewables strategy. It is also detrimental to the countryside. The National Trust, on the other hand, is about preserving the countryside.

The official position of the Trust is to support renewable energy, including wind, but only in the places where the turbine will produce a decent amount of energy. Also to be considered is the full range of environmental considerations, including visual pollution.

The Trust is currently fighting six plans to erect wind turbines in unsuitable locations. Examples include an offshore wind farm in the Bristol Channel and a proposed wind farm on the Duke of Gloucester's land in Northamptonshire.

Sir Simon is sceptical of wind power. He has described inappropriate use of wind turbines as a public menace which is destroying the countryside; the least efficient form of green power which also risks blighting the landscape. He has also said that every week he fights plans for wind farms threatening the 700 miles of coastline, 28,500 acres of countryside and five hundred properties in the Trust's care.

It is worth noting that there are four million Trust members. This is more than the members of all the major political parties combined.


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