Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Officer
It feels almost paradoxical that something so clinical in appearance, so streamlined and architectural can evoke such strong emotions. But, I suppose that’s to be expected when a feature as bold as a wind turbine appears in our landscape. I call it the Grand Design effect!
It’s the TV show that I tune into every week, whilst eating my tea (shamefully on my lap most of the time!). In that hour, I get drawn into the drama, the emotional highs and lows that comes with a project like building your own house.
In my mind, there is a parallel to be drawn here. Like homes, wind turbines have been designed and built with a core function in mind; ensuring a secure and enjoyable place to live through facing up to climate change and lessening our carbon footprint on the planet. In many ways, this becomes more paramount than putting a roof over our heads. If we don’t face up to the fact that our current supplies of energy are running out and damaging a very fragile environment, then we may have a world-wide crisis on our hands.
Today, the RSPB is unveiling its own grand design with a plan to build a wind turbine at its UK headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire. We believe that renewable energy is an essential tool in the fight against climate change, which poses the single biggest threat to the long term survival of birds and wildlife.
Current modelling suggests that a turbine located at our site in Bedfordshire could produce over two thirds of the RSPB’s total UK electricity needs, putting us well on the way to meeting our target to reduce our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Something that the current government (greenest government ever?) should be taking more seriously.
But it’s always a rollercoaster affair isn’t it? I’ve sat and watched Grand Designs with my heart in my mouth as an anxious couple await a planning application decision to give their dream home the go ahead. For the turbine at The Lodge, it’s going to be a similar scenario. We still have research that we want to do to make sure that the Lodge is a suitable place to put a turbine.
We know that with the right design and location wind turbines have little or no impact on wildlife, but we always take care to consider any wind turbine proposal on a case-by-case basis.
We are still in the feasibility stages of our wind turbine project at The Lodge. During this feasibility stage, we will submit a planning application for a meteorological mast, which will gather data for 12 months to monitor the wind resource at the site. We’ll also be continuing with wildlife surveys to make sure we confirm that a turbine would not have any unacceptable impacts on sensitive species in the area.
When we have completed sufficient research, and if we are confident that this is a suitable site, we will submit a full planning application for the turbine, including the environmental assessment, to Central Bedfordshire Council. That certainly sounds like a lot of nail biting stuff and it will be, but rest assured, it will be carried out with passion and a commitment to creating a healthy, sustainable environment choc full of wildlife for future generations.
All of us have a part to play in helping to meet the Government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and this turbine will be one more step along the way.
Let’s be honest about it, wind turbines might look functional, but what do they really represent? In my opinion, it’s clean, green energy. They signify a promise and commitment to future generations that we value our environment and they are an acknowledgement that wildlife and new, modern development can live in harmony.
Wind turbines might not be sexy and they certainly don’t come with an enthusiastic, eloquent Kevin McCloud, but they can and do draw out real emotions in people. Emotions that reconnect us with the landscape in which we live and highlight the vulnerability of our planet. We are only in the first phase of this project, however its ultimate aim is to ensure that, as an organisation we are doing our bit in the fight against climate change. Doing our bit so that my grandchildren will have a healthy environment in which to live. Doing our bit so that we can all continue to live in a landscape that we cherish. And doing our bit for everything that buzzes, creeps, crawls and flutters. That’s pretty grand if you ask me.
To find out more about this project, visit www.rspb.org.uk/lodgewindturbine.
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