Charles Moore

The ugliness of carbon zero

The ugliness of carbon zero
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The government is trying to get onshore windfarms going again, defying the damage they do to unique environments. I am perplexed by how its zero-carbon policies can be reconciled with its wider economic aims of ‘levelling up’ or of fostering a beautiful environment. It is an odd fact that Greens can be extremely hostile to the natural world when it gets in their way. Announcing the above story, the BBC’s environment analyst, Roger Harrabin, informed listeners that the wind turbines could go on ‘empty moorland’ in Scotland and Ireland. Empty? A friend points out that such moors contain ‘snipe, golden plover, red grouse, merlin, pippits, skylarks, short-eared owls, wheatears, stonechat, wrens and curlew’ and there will be ‘several varieties of heather, honeydew, tormentil, rowan, eyebright, many moths and dragonflies, bees, common lizard, mountain hare, red deer and much more’.

Another Green idea, uncritically received, is that we should rush around planting trees everywhere. Dr Tony Whitbread, the president of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, recently published a counterblast to all this sylvamania. ‘Enormous ecological damage was done in the mid-20th century by tree-planting’, particularly in the Flow Country of north-east Scotland, he warns. In a century, Sussex has lost 80 per cent of its heathlands, half of them to trees. ‘Chalk grassland can have about 40 species of sensitive plant per square metre; this reduces to a small number of common species if scrub invades or trees are planted.’ It is ‘nonsense’ that ‘a dense canopy of trees is the natural state of our country’. There are too many eco-babes lost in our woods.

This article is an extract from Charles Moore's Spectator Notes, available in this week's magazine.