The Global Warming Policy Foundation have produced a brilliant series of short films that lay bare the ‘science’ behind, and realities of, current climate change policies. In this, the most recent film, the negative impact that green energy policy has already had on our environment – which the Campaign to Protect Rural England promised to protect but is now campaigning to ruin – is analysed. Under the Net Zero carbon policy, the policies they support will impact even more detrimentally on our landscape and natural ecology. The transcript follows the film.
AS Britain’s economy, population and industry have grown, concerns for the future of natural landscapes and wildlife have also grown. The Campaign to Protect Rural England – the CPRE – is one organisation that claims to represent such concerns. Established in 1926, and like other similar organisations, the CPRE promised supporters that it would protect natural landscapes from incautious and hasty development.
But as political momentum has gathered behind climate change policy, green organisations have drifted from their founding purpose. And the CPRE is no exception. The problem facing organisations like the CPRE is that green energy requires a lot of space.
By contrast, the Hinkley Point C development site in Somerset has a footprint of around 1.5 square kilometres. A wind farm able to provide the same output would require an area nearly one thousand times larger.
Solar power needs less space than wind, but it would still take a solar farm twice the size of Birmingham to produce an output equivalent to Hinkley Point C. When it is completed, Hinkley Point C will provide approximately 7 per cent of the UK’s anticipated electricity demand.
Fourteen plants the same size would have a combined footprint of just 21 square kilometres, and could meet Britain’s entire electricity demand.
But a wind farm with that same footprint would provide only around 0.1 per cent of the UK’s total energy supply, and only on an intermittent basis.
A wind farm with an output equivalent to Britain’s total energy demand would require an area greater than 20 thousand square kilometres. And since wind and solar are intermittent, a backup source of energy is required for when there is no sun or wind.
Green organisations claim that bioenergy crops, or ‘biomass’, can help to keep the lights on. But bioenergy requires even more land than wind and solar farms to produce the same output. Meeting the potential output of Hinkley Point C from bioenergy crops would require nearly 6,000 square kilometres of land to be used to grow coppice, or nearly 10,000 square kilometres to grow miscanthus.
It is unlikely that new technology will be able to reduce the impact of green energy on Britain’s natural landscapes. Bigger wind turbines have been developed. But these larger installations need turbines to be spaced further apart to work efficiently.
Thanks to new technological developments, the cost of solar panels has fallen. But solar PVs have not become more efficient, meaning they will require just as much land, which will become more expensive when an ever-greater area is required to meet green policy targets.
The dash for renewable energy has already transformed much of Britain’s landscape. As the country heads towards meeting even more ambitious targets, the transformation will be all the more radical.
Over the past decade, the UK has decarbonised nearly a third of its electricity supply. But electricity accounts for just 20 per cent of energy use.To completely decarbonise the UK economy over the next three decades in line with the government’s ‘Net Zero’ policy will put increasing pressure on Britain’s natural environment.
This pressure is exactly what organisations like the CPRE promised to protect against. But the CPRE is now almost silent on the impact of industrial solar farms and wind turbines and bio-crops, and has actively promoted them.
The scale of the Net Zero agenda will require the transformation of an area many times larger than the combined footprint of all the roads and buildings in all of Britain’s cities, towns and villages. According to the UK National Infrastructure Assessment, just 6 per cent of the country is classified as built on. And it is expansion of this kind that the CPRE has historically been most resistant to.
But the CPRE now actively campaigns to increase the physical footprint of energy production in the UK.
In their proposal to meet the earlier 80 per cent 2050 emissions-reduction target, the CPRE suggested that 10,000 square kilometres of land should be used for producing bio-energy crops and 30,000 square kilometres should be turned into tree plantations to burn in power stations.
This would require industrialising one sixth of the UK’s entire land area. It is inconceivable that this intensification of land use will not result in the degradation of hedgerows, landscapes, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and important habitats.
Moreover, this proposal required that energy demand is significantly reduced, and large amounts imported.
If energy imports become too expensive, or the emissions-reduction target becomes a political liability, the impact will fall first on the very thing the CPRE claims to protect: the natural environment.
Now that ambitions have been raised from 80 per cent to 100 per cent, the CPRE’s response has not been to make the argument for caution, but to raise the ambition further: to achieve Net Zero by 2045 rather than 2050.
This is a bold and necessary step forward in tackling the #ClimateEmergency.
— CPRE (@CPRE) June 12, 2019
Far from its founding purpose, the CPRE now exists to campaign for the English countryside to be sacrificed.
To find out more, download the reports from the GWPF website.