Ingham’s Eye View: Celtic politics keeping our hills free, for now

Energy secretary Chris Huhne, left, and Prime Minister David Cameron have backed carbon emissions move - Bernard ''Ingham believes it will intensify the pressure for more wind farm development
Energy secretary Chris Huhne, left, and Prime Minister David Cameron have backed carbon emissions move - Bernard ''Ingham believes it will intensify the pressure for more wind farm development

UPPER Calder Valley has had its attention diverted over the past month.

Remarkably, at the end of the first year of a government in power, not even the local elections created much excitement in Hebden Royd.

Instead, the antics of the Coalition after the Liberal Democrats’ failure to change the voting system in a referendum, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne’s marital/motoring problems, the Royal wedding and President Obama’s State visit provided some rather fascinating sideshows along life’s road.

Behind all this razzamatazz – and while it was all quiet on the Hebden front – some useful developments for the valley were taking place elsewhere.

I refer to the Scottish Nationalists’ success in acquiring an outright majority in the disgracefully expensive Scottish Parliament and Labour forming a minority administration, short of only one seat, in the Welsh Assembly.

Now you may reasonably ask what on earth the thistle and daffodil have to do with the fortunes of this Pennine valley and its moorland fastnesses? How come that both Edinburgh and Cardiff are serving your interests?

Well, both the Scots and the Welsh, with their single-minded obsession, are most usefully diverting interest away from the Pennines

It all turns on the policies of both of these devolved institutions.

Each of them is driven by a determination to power their nations entirely with renewable energy within about a decade. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, aims to do so by 2020 – roughly the target of the Welsh.

Why, even the Welsh Conservatives, in their May manifesto, proposed 100 per cent reliance on renewables by 2025.

Salmond remains unmoved by a letter from six engineers – two power engineers and four academics – telling him in no uncertain terms that the pretence that our electricity can in future be supplied from renewables, mainly wind and marine, has gone on too long.

All of these energy sources, they said, are of very low concentrations and intermittent.

They are and will remain inherently expensive and no amount of development will have more than a marginal effect since their performance is governed by the laws of physics.

Even Ed Miliband, Labour leader and formerly UK Energy Secretary, has told Salmond to stop stretching credulity, though with no effect. Salmond always knows best.

Meanwhile, glorious mid-Wales is up in arms because of the working out of TAN8 - a Technical Advice Note on planning that in 2005 defined seven areas of Wales, including Montgomeryshire, as suitable for wind farms.

The row is not just over the proposed further colonisation of the countryside with ever bigger wind turbines but the need further to wreck the environment with huge overhead transmission lines to take the power to the consumers.

They marched on the Welsh Assembly last week – some well over 100 miles from Welshpool – in protest at the desecration of their rural magnet for tourists.

So why should Hebden Royd thank its lucky stars over all this official Celtic blockheadedness?

The short answer is that while the Scots and Welsh hold open house for dirty capitalists to get their hands on subsidies for wind farms now running at £1.1bn a year – which you pay as a consumer – they are keeping your hills and moors safer than they otherwise would be.

The developers, masquerading as saviours of the earth, suspect they will have a tougher fight on their hands here in Calderdale, even if its misguided local authority provocatively hands out planning permission for single turbines without proper consultation.

The only problem is we don’t know how long upper Calder Valley will be relatively protected.

I do not think there is the slightest chance of either Edinburgh or Cardiff seeing sense until the lights go out on them.

But what I do know is that the aforementioned Minister Huhne has just intensified the pressure for wind farm development by ludicrously committing us, with the Prime Minister’s backing, God save us, to legally binding ourselves to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent (on 1990 levels) by 2027.

He, too, is besotted with wind regardless of its cost, unreliability and uselessness in reducing carbon emissions.

Worse still, he has just launched a competition for a new design for electricity pylons. You could not make it up.

The moral of this tale is that while the Scots and the Welsh are temporarily at least helping to stave off environmental ruin for Upper Calder Valley, our very own Energy Secretary is doing his demented best to bring it about.

They all have one thing in common: like too many Greens in Upper Calder Valley, they do not know their humerus from their posterior, so to speak, when it comes to the viability of renewables.

Worse still, they don’t listen to those who do.

Meanwhile, let us be thankful for our crackpot cousins on the Celtic fringe.