Letters: Ugly, disruptive and unreliable: the reality of onshore wind farms

Wind turbines adorn the landscape at Caton Moor, near Lancaster - getty/Christopher Furlong
Wind turbines adorn the landscape at Caton Moor, near Lancaster - getty/Christopher Furlong

SIR – In 2012 our community was “blessed” with an industrial wind turbine (Letters, November 28), which stands 300 ft above us, blighting the South Downs National Park.

Despite the developer’s original claims, it produces just 17 per cent of its rated output (the term is “load factor”). Likewise, despite prior assurances of silence, it whumps incessantly with a medium-strength prevailing southerly wind.

At the planning inquiry the developer bolstered the application by claiming that the device would perform an educational function. It has certainly achieved that objective.

Dr Rosie Boxer
Ringmer, East Sussex

SIR – At a photo shoot in the late 1980s, I stood next to the first ever large commercial wind turbine blade.

As I was chatting to the visionary who developed it, he remarked: “This technology will work – it’s just that we don’t know how strongly and regularly the wind will blow.”

During early trials, it was quickly realised that onshore wind farms rarely generate enough electricity. That is why, in the early 1990s, the foundation designs for offshore turbines were developed. David Cameron’s government did not ban onshore farms: it stopped subsidising them. Onshore wind in Britain is, with rare exceptions, a dead end.

Peter Bryson
Addingham, West Yorkshire

SIR – Recent letters suggest a desire for clear-cut solutions to Britain’s energy situation. In truth, however, we’re going to have to use a mixture of power sources, including renewables.

To support this, battery technology is progressing fast: already it is possible for a container-sized battery to power 300,000 houses for up to two hours, capable of discharge and recharge several times a day.

We have to continue to support and use such developments, in part so that, for instance, we can help a country such as Indonesia shut down most of its 237 coal-fired power stations.

Adair Anderson
Selkirk

SIR – The senseless moratorium on fracking needs to be lifted. It is based on ignorance, and a public information campaign should enable the fantastic resource of gas under our feet to be freed up, while cutting emissions by reducing the number of ships carrying liquefied natural gas to us.

J P Gardner
Bridgwater, Somerset

SIR – I was somewhat confused to receive a letter yesterday from the Department for Work and Pensions asking if I wanted to claim a winter fuel payment for my father, who died in October. I am very happy to advise the Government, free of charge, that one way to save money is not to give winter fuel payments to the next of kin of the deceased.

Nicholas Kaye
Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire

‘Trans’ Jesus

SIR – Regarding your report (“Cambridge dean: Jesus may have been trans”, November 27), no one suggested Jesus was transgender.

The address given in Trinity College chapel was focused on a tradition in the representation of the wounded Christ, which goes back to the Middle Ages, and which represents those wounds as like female genitalia.

This has been a focus of attention in history of art and Christian theology for some decades. The preacher presented this tradition to a lay audience and suggested how it might help us address live questions.

Happily, at the University of Cambridge we believe in free speech, and truthful speech.

Rev Dr Michael Banner
Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge

SIR – I was part of the congregation at the Cambridge evensong service on which you report. My organ teacher was performing in the recital beforehand, and all I can say is that the music transcended the address.

There were young people in the congregation, and the explicit words used by the guest preacher, Joshua Heath, were entirely inappropriate. Mr Heath made a veiled reference to Jordan Peterson, who was at one point banned from speaking at Cambridge – yet when it suits, free speech is considered thought-provoking .

People were uncomfortable, and I focused on my Christmas shopping list rather than listening. This was an address given on the wrong platform to a congregation that deserved better.

Avril Wright
Snettisham, Norfolk

In praise of Alexa

SIR – Harry de Quetteville’s obituary for the Alexa device (Features, November 25) is somewhat premature.

Two years ago, I “inherited” a device from the deceased grandmother of a friend, and it has been so enriching (and much easier to use than my computer). I can plug my Alexa in anywhere in the house and even outside, sit in a comfy chair with a mug of coffee and have an hour with my daughter in Kampala, plus her daughter and granddaughters.

Just the briefest call on the phone is necessary to fix a time, and I can see what the great-grandchildren are up to, while they get used to me before I visit in January. I can glimpse the three ibises on their lawn, and they get a view of the mimosa in my front garden, which promises to flower at Christmas.

Jill Lawson
Eardisley, Herefordshire

Overpaid NHS managers

SIR – It is appalling that more than 2,000 NHS managers are paid six-figure salaries (report, November 28).

It is accepted by the majority that, despite the heroic efforts of hospital staff, the NHS is not working. The situation will never change until we have a government that will grasp the nettle and make real changes.

This does not mean throwing more money at the broken model. The need for a contributory scheme is looming, but a good start would be to slash the pay of these trust managers. There are plenty of capable people who will do the job just as well, and for a lot less. The savings could fund pay rises for medical staff such as nurses.

Dudley Price
Wells, Somerset

SIR – Dr Chris Barry (Letters, November 28) says the only way the NHS could cope during the pandemic was by assessing on the phone or by video whether a patient needed seeing.

Dr Barry should know that, because of the unique ability of Covid-19 to cause silent hypoxia, his claim is incorrect. The only way of assessing whether a patient needed admission to hospital (for life-saving oxygen) was by seeing them and checking their oxygen saturation levels using a pulse oximeter.

The delay in getting patients to hospital caused by the failure of GPs to see them face to face probably resulted in the preventable deaths of thousands of our patients. It is to be hoped that this national scandal will be addressed by any future inquiry into the management of the pandemic.

As a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, I had hoped that the recent change in leadership would result in a refocusing on professional standards and patient care rather than working conditions – properly the remit of the British Medical Association GP committee. It looks as if I will be disappointed.

Dr Gregory Tanner
Middlezoy, Somerset

Medicine Man

SIR – In the 1960s a couple of Army friends and I went on safari to a remote part of the beautiful country of Kenya.

Every morning a number of mothers brought their children to our camp for medical aid – mostly for skin complaints, cuts or sore throats. We did our best and soon emptied our limited medical box of Savlon, Vicks ointment and throat sweets, so moved on to sun cream. Our patients seemed well pleased and our patient list grew.

You report (November 28) that the Wellcome Trust has closed its exhibition, Medicine Man – for 15 years a place to learn about the history of health and medicine, which included items collected by Sir Henry Wellcome himself – on the basis that it was “racist, sexist and ableist” for these items to have been gathered together in the first place.

I realise now that I am all these things and probably a privileged white supremacist and colonialist to boot. Apart from closing myself, is there anything I can do to assuage my guilt?

Malcolm Allen
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

The sherry test

SIR – On the subject of drinks timings (Letters, November 28), here we have Miserable Monday (weekend recovery), Tipples Tuesday, Wet Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday (occasionally known as Friday Eve), and then it’s the weekend again.

Timings are not set but it’s generally considered a bad day if the sherry is poured before 5pm.

George Adams
Brading, Isle of Wight

Paying rugby fans deserve to be listened to

South Africa win a lineout during Saturday’s 13-27 defeat of England at Twickenham - The RFU Collection via Getty Images
South Africa win a lineout during Saturday’s 13-27 defeat of England at Twickenham - The RFU Collection via Getty Images

SIR – Eddie Jones, the England rugby coach, doesn’t care much for what supporters think (Sport, November 28).

Having paid £174 for the alleged pleasure of watching an autumn international at Twickenham, I think he must be careful not to bite the hand that feeds him.

Simon Morpuss
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

SIR – Recent performances of the English rugby and football teams have led to speculation about who should be in charge of them. Eddie Jones, they say, must be replaced before the next rugby world cup, and Gareth Southgate is not injecting enough energy and excitement into the national football side.

I sympathise with the gentlemen, who must feel that every pundit is an expert who forgets their victories. Nevertheless, they have to face up to the central issue: management is not the same as leadership.

I admire the English cricket authority’s decision to appoint Brendon McCullum as the Test coach. He is a leader who does not tell his players how to play the game, but tells them how to enjoy it: with freedom and smiles on their faces. And he lets them get on with it – no marching about the technical area, gesticulating and shouting. Instead, he sits on the balcony with his sunglasses watching his team loving the game.

So let Mr McCullum be a lesson to our other sports authorities. Pick leaders, not managers.

Nicholas Nelson
Iwerne Minster, Dorset

Imprisoned at home by the Mayor of London

SIR – The ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez) is to be expanded across all of Greater London from next August.

My lovely car – with many years of use left in it – does not comply with the new rules, and although I live only 400 yards from the Kent border, sadly it will have to be sold. As a pensioner already struggling with the cost of living, the extra £12.50 the Mayor of London will charge me for driving out of my home each day is unaffordable.

There is a hail-and-ride bus service near where I live, which runs every 60 to 90 minutes. The last bus passes my home at about 9.30pm and there is no service on Sundays or bank holidays. If I have no car and the bus does not run, I will be a prisoner in my own home. Clean air is a worthy cause – but at the cost of my mental health?

We have only nine months left in which to plan. If I were disabled I would have until October 2027 to make adjustments. In that time, I could save for a Ulez-compliant car. More importantly, it would give the Mayor the opportunity to improve services so that public transport is a genuine alternative to driving. There is really no substitute for a car where I live, and not everyone can just buy a new one.

Stephen Welbourn
Cudham, Kent

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