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  • Dominic Stinton

Wind Farms: A sheep in wolf’s clothing?

There is a grim and chilling scene at the beginning of The War Of The Worlds reboot, as Tom Cruise springs to action at the sight of the first alien visitor springing forth from the earth to wreak havoc with its death ray, when a casually nonchalant bystander leans into his open car window to chat, only to be instantly vapourised. Tall, mechanical and menacing, the alien invader and its pals quickly spread their net across the entire planet before a nasty common cold stops them in their tracks.

It won’t have escaped many people’s attention that some of the technologies designed over the past twenty years to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels, have the potential to instill the same fear as the latter, which is ironic given their purpose, namely to produce cleaner, more efficient energy that will slow the rate of climate change. And given the entirely false recent hysteria surrounding 5G phone masts, it’s not a stretch to imagine farms, turbines and solar paneling etc as machinery that elicits dystopian rather than utopian emotions within certain sections of the community, rather like the spider-like machines giving Tom Cruise sleepless nights.

However, If we look at another pop cultural reference, it also wasn’t that long ago when Thomas Dolby’s wide-eyed reverie Wind Power climbed the charts in the early 80s; this was an era of course when technology was viewed as a sign of progress, and Top Of The Pops was crammed full of earnest-looking young men stood unsmiling in front of synthesisers. Even Kate Bush got in on the act with her single Cloudbursting, which conjured up esoteric hopes for mankind’s future ability to create magic from the elements around us.

So where are we now in 2020? The truth is somewhere in between. We have great machines both on land and at sea which are not only capable of generating huge amounts of clean energy to power homes and industry without resorting to burning fossil fuels, but also power our pensions, as a whole financial sector dedicated to renewable energy sources has grown up in its (Poseiden’s) wake. But we also live in an age where multiple opposing views have been spread via social media to such an extent that it’s no longer possible to say we live in a technological or non-technological age. The incredible global race to find a cure for COVID-19 is matched by a stubborn belief in flat earth theories in certain corners of the internet.

However, as any Hollywood screenwriter knows, the pairing of two seemingly polarising characters from different sides of the tracks makes for great entertainment and insight, as each gets to know the real person by the end of the film, and friendships and mutual understanding are formed. We believe that familiarity is the way to unlock the potential that renewable energy sources can bring to communities, and in doing so, quash the fear factor that has traditionally been entwined with the unknown.

At Built-ID, we are using our Give My View platform to bring communities closer to wind farms, and as we ourselves have discovered, there is actually much to not only admire but also potentially to love about them. For instance, many of the companies operating them have quite substantial Community Investment Funds which are used to invest in initiatives that resonate with local communities, both at the point of impact (ie. living/working near the farms or at the transition joint bay for offshore farms) but also further afield.

Wind farms also make for great education facilities, both on and offshore, and students from all academic walks of life have shown interest in learning more about these technologies, which has led to the proliferation of visitor centres and schools visits from experts. These are all things that can be tested to gauge community interest using Give My View.

Wind farms also represent fantastic much-needed employment opportunities both in regard to their construction, and the complex supply chains involved in not only building them but also transporting them to their sites and getting them up and ready for use.

And it is also possible to integrate the turbine towers themselves with the human hand of the people that not only built them but will benefit from them in years to come; some wind farm operators have commissioned school children to create murals and messaging on the bases of the turbine towers themselves, to be discovered many years later when the turbines are decommissioned and removed from the land or sea.

So if you want to find out how to bring a cautious community closer to the great potential of your renewable energy scheme, whether that is wind, water or solar-based or beyond, get in touch to find out how Give My View can not only help dispel myths and provide education for the communities you serve, but also get them involved to influence decisions that create a win-win situation for both parties.


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