The biggest problem with today’s entry is going to be how to keep it short. It could take some time… An awful lot to get through, and reading back what I’ve written so far, I realise just how much I’ve already covered. I wish I didn’t have to write so much, I really do. But it’s all defensive, not aggressive. I wouldn’t harm a fly!
It’s just essential, in the name of natural equilibrium, that each and every one of the lies told by the wind industry is balanced and corrected. There’s been such an awful lot of lies, there’s bound to be an equal and opposite amount of words required to set things straight.
LIES! LIES! LIES!
This really is the blog that writes itself, real-life news events occurring in sync with the topics I discuss (a darn sight more in sync than the turbines at Ovenden Moor earlier this afternoon, but I’ll come onto that later). Check out this story:
“The claims in the Westminster offshore wind campaign are some of the most blatant distortions of the truth that I have seen in pro-wind advertising… This campaign is deliberately aimed at MPs, peers and other decision makers. The wind industry and green campaigners owe them a public apology. This is a shameful piece of spin.”
A bunch of Dishonest Bananas trying to control a bunch of Scared Watermelons. And they are Dishonest Bananas at heart, not Limes, because people who are genuinely Green on the inside don’t lie. The very act of lying proves that, deep down, they know their solution is a crock of shit. How do they live with themselves?
Hopefully, dear reader, you’re starting to join the dots!
And there’s yet more wind being done badly. More LIES! What else is in today’s news feed?
“Concerns are growing about potential ethics violations by wind companies and some county officials who approve their projects….“
Had enough LIES yet, or do you want some more?
“If the true and staggering cost of subsidised wind and solar power were public knowledge, there would be public outrage.”
So that’s what’s going on across the world. Closer to home, I had a great Peak Protection drive today, my usual Pennine Patrol: just checking all is well in the hills and nothing untoward to report. My journey started at Horbury Bridge on the River Calder and took me up onto the foothills to the north east of the Peak. At Grange Moor I headed north onto a very twisty and dangerous B-road, with a couple of nasty wind turbines very close to the road, adding a distracting visual presence to what is already a challenging drive.
I twisted my way down some country lanes with far-reaching views over the South Pennines. Just past Hopton I crossed onto the northern bank of the Calder and headed west onto the A644 towards Brighouse. A couple of large turbines dominated a hill straight ahead of me, somewhere just south of Southowram I make it. I continued on the long, almost continuous uphill drag, through Hipperholme, Stone Chair and Queensbury to the appropriately named village of Mountain, over 300 metres above sea level.
The appallingly blighted Soil Hill loomed ahead of me, with seven or eight turbines haphazardly plastered all around the summit. Not an actual wind farm, this is one of the worst cases of cumulative impact in the area, its appearance and character totally and utterly degraded by the horrible white pillars dotted around its upper slopes.
I cut south of Soil Hill, crossing the A629 near Ogden Water, and to my right I saw the monsters of Ovenden Moor, most spinning rapidly despite very low wind. About three of the turbines were stationary. Suffice to say that poor old Ogden Water, up until just a few years ago one of the most relaxing and life-affirming beauty spots of West Yorkshire, has had its pleasantness totally destroyed by the repugnant wind blight. Yes, there were smaller turbines here before, remnants of a bygone era, but you couldn’t see or hear them from the nature reserve. Now you can’t avoid the bastards.
I drove through the strange village/overspill estate of Mixenden, not one of the most inviting settlements I’ve ever visited, and headed north onto the ancient Withens Road. Finally above the tree line, I drove alongside the barbed-wire fence that surrounds the Ovenden Moor substation, and shortly beyond I passed the last building before the wilderness. To my left, the true wuthering heights of the South Pennines stretched off into the fog. What an incredible, if hazy view.
To my right, however, the turbines of Ovenden Moor seemed to monopolise the landscape for ages and ages. At first I thought, “Well, this isn’t so bad”, but after a while their presence started to get on my nerves. How can I best explain the annoyance? It’s like a dripping tap. You wonder what the fuss is about until suddenly you lock into the sound and it becomes the loudest noise in the world. I was truly glad to be past Ovenden Moor when I reached the end of Withens Road, however dominating the view directly in front of me, and single-handedly ruining this supposedly tourist-friendly landscape, was a truly obnoxious turbine, immediately east of the approach to Haworth.
WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING TO YOURSELVES???
Horrible, horrible, horrible, and a good chance to cue up the Kate Bush. No, not “that” song, a different one…
They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It’s a mistake in the making
Now in my last entry I referred to a Mr Vickram Mirchandani. Have you done your research yet? What have you found out? My introduction to his company, Coronation Power (registered at the same address in the British Virgin Islands as Coronation Oil & Power, wannabe frackers who can’t actually get a licence anywhere, boo hoo!), came shortly after my first real moment of cognitive dissonance, which I described a few entries back. Driving around Rossendale, I felt something seriously wrong with how the Scout Moor wind turbines were making me feel.
I can prove scientifically that right up until this moment, if I did have a bias regarding wind turbines, it was favourable. I’m almost embarrassed to admit I posted this! Oh my Lord. The Kool-Aid hadn’t worn off yet, as of August 6th 2014. On that date I posted on Facebook: “Hail Storm Hill – this is one of my fave mountains. It’s also the site of the UK’s largest onshore wind farm, Scout Moor. Unlike at Rushy Hill, the wind farm here suits its location perfectly. You get the feeling that Hail Storm Hill loves using its height and landmass to produce energy, it’s definitely a mountain that likes to feel useful.”
“When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, Sir?”
Within just a couple of years I would be writing to Rossendale Council, threatening to personally lie in front of a bulldozer if they planned on erecting any more turbines on Hail Storm Hill. I hope this proves again, I really don’t have a beef with honest Watermelons, because I was one myself, just three years ago. We were all hoodwinked, it happened to us all. Maybe that’s another reason I feel so strongly about it. The people who get most upset about a scam are those who fell for it themselves. The first step is to acknowledge it and then we can move on.
It turns out Hail Storm Hill did enjoy being useful, but not in the way I initially thought. I think the good reaction I got to Scout Moor Wind Farm is only now starting to reveal its true purpose.
Firstly, it demonstrates that I didn’t come into this with any kind of hidden agenda (no, I don’t work for an oil company!). Just three short years ago I was publicly singing the praises of at least one wind farm, although clearly the desecration of Rushy Hill (site of Hyndburn Wind Farm) had triggered a bad reaction from the outset.
Secondly, Scout Moor hadn’t at that time been joined by the Reaps Moss and Crook Hill wind farms, adding a further 14 turbines to the skyline above Rochdale, let alone the failed attempts at Rooley Moor, Gorpley and the further two dozen applied for at Scout Moor itself.
Thirdly, I hadn’t seen Scout Moor from up close, or spent considerable time there. I’d probably only seen it from the M62, or possibly the A680 Rochdale – Edenfield Road. I certainly hadn’t talked to anyone in the community about its impact on their health and well-being.
Still, I liked it. I find it hard to believe now, but there it is in black and white. Scout Moor grabbed my attention and said “Look at me!”, and my initial reaction was favourable.
It wasn’t until I was driving through Rossendale a few weeks later and felt that unmistakable sensation of something not quite right that I took a closer look into what might have caused it. I’d never even heard a bad word said about wind turbines up until that point. I just assumed that everyone liked them.
It was around this time I stumbled across Rooley Moor. Another wrong-turning, trying to be clever and to cut from Whitworth to Heywood, I ended up at a quarry overlooking the absolutely gobsmacking hidden treasure of Rooley Moor. “This place is out of this world!” I thought. Totally unheard of outside the local area, Rooley Moor is a high-altitude oasis of moorland surrounded by heavily urbanised valleys. When I found out there were plans to build a wind farm on this ethereal plateau, I had the mother of all amygdala hijacks, and felt myself rapidly transforming into the Wind Warrior whose words you’re reading today!
There was one final piece of the jigsaw. I don’t know if it was the same day or soon afterwards (I was driving around the area about once a week by this point). I parked in Whitworth and went for a ramble up past Brown Wardle and to the rear of the stunning Watergrove Reservoir, another hidden treasure (well, it used to be, just three short years ago…). I still remember the sound of church bells peeling through the air, reverberating off these dark hills. I could also hear football fans cheering somewhere in the distance as I clambered up the side of Crook Hill. I could not believe what I saw at the summit: an HGV access track carved over the top of the moor. I can’t explain just how it made me feel, but I was now frantic with worry about what on earth was going on up there.
When I got home, I soon discovered that Coronation Power, the very same company behind the Rooley Moor proposal, also wanted to build a wind farm up here on Crook Hill, to add to their existing Todmorden abomination just a few miles away. Unfortunately, they’d been given permission and were just about to start work. Not only that, they had also been given permission for a further three turbines at Reaps Moss, between Crook Hill and Todmorden. Coronation Power wanted to literally surround the town of Bacup with turbines in every direction. And, as if all that wasn’t threat enough to these vulnerable moors, Kelda Water had their own plans for the Gorpley Wind Farm, slap-bang in the middle of this Ground Zero for eco-destruction.
Just as an IT system is a network of interconnected devices, so is the system of peaks that form the Pennine chain. What happens on one peak has an impact on those around it. Remember what a Marilyn is? It’s a peak that is over 150 metres higher than the surrounding land, more often than not in the Pennines a large, high, flat-topped plateau, like a giant tabletop, rather than a Toblerone-shaped Alpine mountain. Hail Storm Hill is the Marilyn that hosts Scout Moor Wind Farm on the south-western sections of its plateau. The Scout Moor extension would have also taken out the entire north and centre of the plateau, and Rooley Moor Wind Farm would have obliterated the east. Literally the whole of Hail Storm Hill and its upper slopes would have colonised by wind companies, Peel and Coronation Power slugging it out between them in a mountain-top turf war.
The Pennine Peaks are supposed to provide us with a high-altitude escape from the corporate shenanigans of the valleys below.
Hail Storm Hill’s eastern edge links with the neighbouring Marilyn, Freeholds Top, just north of Whitworth, where the A671 reaches its high point in a cutting between the two Marilyns. Like Hail Storm Hill, Freeholds Top is a high moorland plateau with steep, sometimes sheer drop offs. It’s also on the national watershed, the high point between the Irish Sea and the North Sea, and something of a “crossroads” peak between different sections of the Pennines: immediately to its east, just across the Walsden Gorge, lie the northernmost moors of the Dark Peak. Less than a decade ago, a drive along the A681 from Bacup towards Todmorden would have showcased the natural unspoilt majesty of Freeholds Top. Now, following the construction of Todmorden, Reaps Moss and Crook Hill wind farms (but mercifully not Gorpley), the same view will make you cry. Thank you, Coronation Power.
What they’ve done to Freeholds Top is GBH to a mountain.
I believe Hail Storm Hill called out to me. It introduced itself and pointed me in the direction of Freeholds Top. Between the two of them, these criminally unprotected mini-mountains of the South Pennines have had to take their wind blight on the chin, in order to provide us with close-up exposure to the true nature of wind energy. That’s what I feel Hail Storm Hill wanted to show me: “I can handle it (just), but there’s many, many vulnerable hills out there who are under attack. Like my good friend and neighbour over here, Freeholds Top. Go and take a closer look, and see if you can put a stop to it!”
There were an awful lot of people involved in the successful protest against Rooley Moor, which I’m going to document in full next time I think, because I’ve already given you loads to take in for one entry, and it’s such a long saga it deserves fresh eyes! I probably had negligible personal influence in the decision to reject Rooley Moor, other than to do whatever I could to amplify the voice of the community. But if there’s one small contribution I was able to make to protect Rooley Moor, it was to keep the horrors of the neighbouring Crook Hill construction in the spotlight, which I’m sure didn’t help instil confidence in Coronation Power’s eco-credentials!
I’ll fill you in with all the mistakes Coronation Power made next time, but that’s how I initially found out about it. From liking Scout Moor at first, to having it make me feel sick, to stumbling across Rooley Moor by accident and finally making my acquaintance with Crook Hill. Throughout it all, my understanding of the wind scam derived 100% from rambling and exploring, then researching what I’d found, not the other way round! I started positively biased towards wind energy, and within two months I was a confirmed Wind Warrior. This is the direction of travel almost all of us have followed – from supporting wind to opposing it within just a few weeks.
You don’t meet many people who travel in the other direction, from opponent of wind power to supporter. Funny that…
Finally, a couple of great blogs from two fellow Wind Warriors. Great minds think alike 😉