Why are Conservative MPs so intent on wrecking our countryside?

4 December 2012

Last week we had Nick Boles extolling the virtues of concreting over what green space we still have in order to tackle an alleged housing shortage. And now, in today’s FT, we have Conservative ‘Climate Change Minister’ Greg Barker claiming that wind farms are not merely ‘wonderful’ and ‘majestic’ but so much so that those near his Sussex constituency have become a ‘tourist attraction.’

What an extraordinary vision of the Conservative future he summons up.


Has Mr Barker ever considered, among other things, the law of diminishing returns?  I suppose it is possible that someone might get in their car once in order to gawk at the despoliation of our habitat. But it seems unlikely to me that anyone but a masochist would repeat such a trip.

Does Mr Barker believe in a future where wind farm tourism is a weekly thing, with families setting out each weekend to picnic amid the swooping grandeur of his wind farms? Does he see people, after visiting the wind farms of his own constituency, becoming such aficionados, that they head off to other constituencies to seek out further examples of the art form?

The more you listen to the vision some ‘conservatives’ have of our future, the more you wonder how they do not blush at their misappropriation of the ‘c’ word.

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  • rndtechnologies786

    Good thought.

  • John Graham

    Greg Barker states that wind turbines in his constituency are a Tourist Attraction. As far as I can see there are no wind farms in Battle and Bexhill whichj suggests he is talking about the odd small on farm turbine. The old saying ‘one turbine may be a kinetic sculpture but hundreds are visual pollution’ comes to mind,

  • Trofim

    Most people don’t give a toss whether there is coutryside, paricularly young ones, who’s future lives will simply entail looking at a screen of some size. Food comes out of supermarkets, water comes out of taps, and there is an infinite amount of it in the understanding of your average punter, and once you’ve seen a tree, you’ve seen every tree. And who wants to look at a boring landscape when you can look at an iPad?

    I wonder how many people have noticed that we have had to buy 2 million tons of wheat from Germany this year? USA couldn’t supply it due to drought. We were lucky this year. Perhaps some time in the future when we need to buy some foodstuff or other, our potential suppliers will need it for themselves. No, couldn’t happen. Food comes out of supermarkets, always has done and always will do. No need for countryside. What we need is economic growth, so we can have more and more things, and thus get happier and happier.

  • Hengist McStone

    Fair enough everyones entitled to an opinion and Douglas Murray’s anti-windfarm rant is nothing more than that. Its a shame though that the anti-windfarm brigade chooses to use such evocative language. ‘Wrecking our countryside’ is a phrase that could be used to describe almost any form of energy or mineral extraction, bit of a cliche when its used to describe a modern windmill

    • Trofim

      Mineral extraction an eyesore? I’ve not noticed any form of mineral extraction or mining 300 foot up in the sky, visible from 20 miles away.i

  • Daniel Maris

    This is a silly article, far beneath you.

    I would have thought that you would at least see the merits of wind energy in terms of energy independence, freeing us from Arab and Russian despots. It is democratic energy.

    As for the aesthetics, whilst of course people’s views will differ I certainly find them a beguiling and beautiful addition to the landscape in most places.

  • Roy

    If it wasn’t already wrecked by the old attitude to the treatment of a foot and mouth disease outbreak.

  • Simon

    I like Douglas Murray,

    He speaks up for Israel ..Rightly so…yet oddly ( in my opinion) denies the God of Israel without Whom there would be no Israel. His atheism by all accounts

    (I believe I heard him say this in a nutshell, correct me if I’m wrong Douglas)

    on the basis that he read the koran!?…which I find equally odd as surely a man of true conviction in Christ and Biblical understanding could not turn his back on that conviction on the basis that he read the koran. I think Douglas Murray got something very fundamentally wrong…he mistook Yahweh for allah. Am I saying that they are not the same?? I certainly am! Am I saying Muslims are insincere when they call out to God?? Certainly not, I do however believe they are calling out to a different god. Douglas in my opinion got muddled, he probably got the Old testament wrong, sadly this is all too common. Take a closer look..who were the caananites, the hittites and the jebusites?? Yes that is right ..they were child sacrificing monsters.. that is why God told the Israelites to wipe them out. Yes despite peoples misunderstanding God does dish out Judgement …please re read the Gospels its not all grace, love and forgiveness, important as they are. In fact God expresses Himself as gracious , forgiving , loving many times in The Old testament. Who does Mohammed tell to wipe out ?? That’s right the infidel…i.e. the Jew and the Christian.

    P.s I do actually find wind farms a little majestic

  • Lupulco

    I shall not get into a debate whether Wind Farms are the answer, and the fact that they seem to require vast amounts of Government [taxpayer] money to get of the ground.

    Just an idea, a wind generator once up and running is virtually automatic, also it can be monitored remotely. So why not make it a planning rule that;
    a] every Industrial estate above a certain size [let the powers that be determine size] as one wind generator installed on the estate.
    b] this reduces the cabling costs, i know you lose out on economy of scale, but you do spread the wind generators around the country.
    c] when delivering goods to a industrial estate, the wind generator makes it easier to locate the estate.
    d] If the wind ceases to blow in a particular area it has less of a detrimental effect due to not having all your wind generators in one area.

    • Lesley Silver

      You don’t need to get into debates – just look at Gridwatch, which will give you a snapshot of our energy requirements, and will show how much of it is furnished by the various energy sources. At the moment, wind is contributing 1.7%.

    • Dougal Quixote

      Virtually automatic. Oh that it was. Most are run by engineers sitting at a computer console in Germany. I like your idea but regret that your lack of knowledge renders the suggestion impracticle. Spread the wind generators around the country? They already are as anyone who travels widely around Scotland will know. Problem is that to produce any worthwhile output, ignoring the intermittency for now, you would need a wind farm on practically every lump and bump in the UK.

  • Colin Megson

    ” ….’wonderful and majestic’….” they may be. However, we’ll still get the 5 main assertions of the onshore wind farm lobby put on the table at every application meeting.

    But when does over-optimism become deception? The ‘top assertion’ for wind power is: ‘[onshore] wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year’ But this assertion is 25% over and above the actual % delivered.

    Google “prisms to power the uk” to find out how the 4 other main assertions perform against reality.

    • Daniel Maris

      Never trust someone who puts quotation marks around words but doesn’t give you the source.

      • Colin Megson

        Get onto the “prisms to power the uk” blog and it’s all referenced there.

      • Lesley Silver

        That’s a silly objection. Putting something in quotes shows you what to google. HTH.

  • andagain

    Last week we had Nick Boles extolling the virtues of concreting over what green space we still have in order to tackle an alleged housing shortage.

    House prices have gone through the roof over the last decade or two. Especially in the South East, which makes it difficult to move their for work.

    Now if you want to say “screw you” to everyone who is young, poor, or wants to move south to look for work, fine. But at least have the decency to say so, rather than blandly declare that every thing is just fine for them.

    People saying things like this are the reason conservatives have the reputation of being wealthy, selfish bastards.

  • MichtyMe

    Why? The tiny group of tories in the Scottish parliament were embarrassed a couple of weeks ago when it was publicised that two of their landowning members had turbines. Anyone know how many of the Westminster lot? Using the same ratio it must be scores.

  • salieri

    Perhaps because it’s all part of the self-flagellating process known as “detoxifying the brand” – or, in plain English, the replacement of politics by jejune market research and of principle by populism. The more feather-brained the policy, the more it must be first applauded, then embraced, and finally imposed on the public. It’s a self-perpetuating form of lunacy.

    Part of this rebranding requires new appointments (sc. Climate Change Minister) to assume responsibility for policies that no-one ever thought necesssary before, thus ipso facto closing down debate on their value. Anyone prepared to bet that 2013 will not see the creation of a Gay Marriage Minister?

  • DGStuart

    ‘The more you listen to the vision some ‘conservatives’ have of our future, the more you wonder how they do not blush at their misappropriation of the ‘c’ word.’

    It’s hardly surprising really Douglas is it when the Conservative party in terms of its leadership team at any rate has been taken over by the liberal democrat wing of Cameron, Maude, Mitchell, May, Clark, Barker, Boles et al. with too many real conservatives like Redwood, Rees-Mogg etc. consigned to the backbenches.

  • The Laughing cavalier

    Living in the dimwit Barker’s constituency I can assure you that the wind turbines East of Rye are not a tourist attraction.

  • DZ

    ……. because they are incredibly far-sighted intelligent beings who know that oil, gas, coal, lignite, and uranium are all finite resources that will run out in about 50,000 years, so they need to build up their personal fortunes now to purchase property in idyllic places where the Trade Wind is constant and windmills can be small and unobtrusive; except that when the Trade Winds are not blowing it is cloudy, hot and sticky, so a/c is a necessity and the treadmill has to be re-invented, but luckiny the plebs will be on hand (or foot) to provide the power input.

  • Bluesman

    “Why are Conservative MPs so intent on wrecking our countryside?”

    Because, with very few exceptions they are soft-left-liberal-elite Nomenklatura who could “represent” any constituency no matter the colour of the rosette as long as they could be a member of the greater club, as do the other two sets of soft-left-liberal-elite Nomenklatura. In this they share not so much a political vision for the nation but a vision of how to best gain advantage within the Nomenklatura. In addition, some seek to shape public policy to their benefit; you know their names.

    Can I provide evidence? At least one liar and thief serves in the current government with several more insulated from the law by being members of the HoP. As to the argument that they all entered politics to serve the public interest just don’t bother, that died with Walpole.

    • David Lindsay

      It is not Soft Left. It is Hard Right. The economic basis of which is simply being given effect by the destruction of the countryside. Not for the first time.

      Insteda, there must be a tax on the productive value of land per acre, other than that occupied by the homes of the less well off, perhaps making possible the abolition of stamp duty, and in any event establishing and enforcing the principle that no one should own land other than in order to make use of it; this was proposed by Andy Burnham when he was a candidate for Leader of the Labour Party. There must also be a statutory requirement of planning permission for change of use if it is proposed
      to turn a primary dwelling into a secondary dwelling, a working family home into a weekend or holiday home.

      My friend, neighbour, MP and erstwhile Parish Council colleague, Pat Glass, has been taking on the Government’s failure to create the promised Supermarkets Ombudsman. Beyond that, we need to make the supermarkets fund investment in agriculture and small business, determined in close consultation with the National Farmers’ Union and the Federation of Small Businesses, by means of a windfall tax, to be followed if necessary by a permanently higher flat rate of corporation tax, and in either case accompanied by strict regulation to ensure that the costs were not passed on to suppliers, workers, consumers, communities or the environment.

      There is the most pressing need to revive the movement of those who have resisted enclosure, clearances, exorbitant rents, absentee landlordism, and a whole host of other abuses of the rural population down to the present day. Those who obtained, and who continue to defend, rural amenities such as schools, medical facilities, Post Offices, and so on. Those who opposed the destruction of the national rail and bus networks, and who continue to demand that those services be reinstated.

      Those who have fought, and who continue to fight, for affordable housing in the countryside, and for planning laws and procedures that take proper account of rural needs. Those who object in principle to government without the clear electoral mandate of rural as well as of urban and suburban areas. Those who have been and who are concerned that any electoral reform be sensitive to the need for effective rural representation. Distributism and the related tendencies. And those who are conservationist rather than environmentalist.

      Farm labourers, smallholders, crofters and others organised in order to secure radical reforms. County divisions predominated among safe Labour seats when such first became identifiable in the 1920s, while the Labour Party and the urban working class remained profoundly wary of each other throughout the period that both could realistically be said to exist at all, with several cities proving far less receptive to Labour than much of the nearby countryside.

      Working farmers sat as Labour MPs between the Wars and subsequently. The Attlee Government created the Green Belt and the National Parks, which no party or politician committed to neoliberal economics could possibly be expected to do
      anything other than destroy utterly. Step forward, Nick Boles.

      Real agriculture is the mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare (leading to safe, healthy and inexpensive food) as against “factory farming”, and it is a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the “free” market. Farm subsidies, which this country had for 30 years before going into what was really always the EU, are a thoroughly excellent idea. Provided that we run them ourselves, and provided that, as set out above, we establish and enforce the principle that no one should own land other than in order to make use of it.

      The President of the Countryside Alliance is a Labour peer, Baroness Mallalieu, and its Chairman is a Labour MP, Kate Hoey. For at least three consecutive General Elections until 2010, few or no Conservative MPs were returned by the hunting heartlands of Wales, Yorkshire, the Midlands, Devon and Cornwall.

      The present Coalition means, either that Labour is now the only electoral option for the age-old rural Radicalism of the West Country and Hampshire, and for the
      combination of that with Unionism (or, at least, with a strong suspicion of rule from the Scottish Central Belt or from South Wales) in the North and South of Scotland and in Mid Wales, or else that the Labour Party now demands to be replaced with something that can indeed meet this profoundly pressing and electorally opportune need.

      • Terry

        I wonder if anybody still bothers to read this mans seemingly interminable posts. I know i don’t.
        Perhaps he should send them to the New Statesman.

        • Austin Barry

          New Statesmen? Perhaps the Thomas Crapper would be more appropriate.

      • MrCreosote

        Where’s the nearest gun shop?

        • David Lindsay

          Why, have you spotted a black person or something? Truly an admirer of Douglas Murray.

      • Austin Barry

        The last paragraph exactly enshrines Lindsay’s prolixity, incoherence and tortuous use of the English language.

        He really should study Orwell’s rules of good writing – or stick to writing tax legislation.

        • David Lindsay

          Invoking Orwell is the sign of a limited intellect. Like his. And yours.

          • Austin Barry

            As a riposte that is curiously complimentary. Many thanks.

          • Lesley Silver

            So is insulting the intellect of your adversary.

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