Renewable UK, the renewable energy trade association, is about to begin offering £20,000 a year in payments to communities who will agree to put up with the awful inconvenience of hosting clean energy. The amount would be paid every year for 20 years, and total £400,000.
The UK government is trying the new approach, in a joint program with the trade organization Renewable UK, to try to overcome organized local opposition.
“The package of measures will see wind farm developments of 5 MW and above that are submitted to planning authorities come with a commitment to community funds and/or benefits in kind,” said a joint statement from the Department for Energy and Climate Change and Renewable UK.
You might think that people would be glad to host wind farms in their neighborhoods, given the alternative. Building clean energy displaces the dirty power from natural gas and coal that kills people, both now, directly, and indirectly, for generations into the foreseeable future through climate change.
Charles Anglin at Renewable UK told the BBC, said the opposition is very “vocal and organized”, yet “over the last decade, independent polls have showed 80% of people are in favor of wind power.”
In the US this “vocal and organized” opposition to solar and wind has been shown to have direct ties to groups funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers. Just one of their fossil energy companies, the Oxbow Corporation sells 10 million metric tons of petroleum coke and 8 million metric tons of steam coal annually, and they have spent liberally on front groups that protest against renewable energy.
They fund the “research” published by The Heartland Institute like “Wind Turbines Killing Thousands of Birds in Northwest”, and The Pacific Institute and smaller front groups – all to oppose wind power. (You’ll never guess what form of energy actually does kill birds!) Koch spent millions to derail Cape Wind, and succeeded for a decade.
One of the front groups, Industrial Wind Action Group (which pushes the same persistent bogus stories about birdkills as The Heartland Institute) has expressed their “disappointment” in the British plan: “The wind farm industry is taking our money with one hand and expecting us to be grateful for the small change offered with the other,” said the director of policy and research at the foundation, John Constable.
It remains to be seen if payments to communities will be enough to outweigh the money and the propaganda machine of the fossil fuel interests that are really pushing the opposition to wind farms.
The Koch brothers are worth billions. Constable is right about one thing. A mere £400,000 is indeed “small change” to them.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.