Gosh it hurts when your little corner of paradise is destroyed by a few idiots’ ignorance and greed. This is what has just happened to one of Britain’s best-kept secrets, the magically beautiful and remarkably untouristed stretch of the Wye Valley round and about Builth Wells.
Every summer we used to take a holiday let there, jumping into our favourite swim-hole in the Wye, playing Cocky-Olly in the bracken, exploring Llewellyn’s Cave, watching the last of the sun bathe the uplands from the shade of the boules terrain outside the house where we’d enjoy our well-earned fags and evening gin and tonic. But I don’t think I could bear go back there. The sight of what they’re doing to it is just too painful.
By ‘they’ I don’t mean the locals, most of whom have fought long and expensively to stop the nightmare happening. I mean the handful of vulture capitalists and dodgy politicians — mostly outsiders with no understanding of what makes the area special — who’ve forced through an application for an industrial development of seven 110 metre-high wind turbines at Hendy near Hundred House. It will blight the unspoilt landscape for miles around, to the benefit of absolutely no one save the usual kind of rent-seeking spivs who grow rich and fat on this disgusting, taxpayer-subsidised Potemkin industry.
Ultimately, though, it’s not the wind parasites I blame for this, any more than I’d blame cockroaches attracted to a lump of carelessly discarded rotten meat. No: the people above all responsible for the slow ruination of our countryside are the MPs who ten years ago voted through the most Expensive Virtue Signal in history — the 2008 Climate Change Act.
Only five MPs voted against the CCA — among them, Ann Widdecombe and the sainted Peter (now Lord) Lilley — and they have since been more than vindicated. British industry now has the highest energy costs anywhere in Europe; the UK taxpayer is committed to squandering billions each year on decarbonisation schemes that might have been dreamt up by Swift’s Grand Academy of Lagado; and, maybe worst of all, a veritable bestiary of chancers, second-raters, halfwits, eco-fascist ideologues and control freaks have been given carte blanche to ruin Britain in the name of saving the world.
The Hendy wind farm is typical of this. After various applications by the developer it was finally turned down by the Planning Inspector. Sensibly (and unusually) he ruled that the landscape’s ‘distinctive character’ and topography provide a ‘relatively intimate environment which makes it particularly susceptible to impact from development of the scale proposed’. But a minister from the Welsh government, one Lesley Griffiths, overruled him. ‘The benefits of the proposal in terms of delivering renewable energy… blah blah blah,’ she droned.
Now many millions of learned words have been written laboriously detailing why renewable energy isn’t the magic bullet the greenies claim it is: the slicing and dicing of all that avian fauna; infrasound; shadow flicker; the intermittency; the need for fossil fuel power on standby; the unfortunates it drives into fuel poverty. But I doubt that Welsh minister has read a single one of them — and why should she: does she not have it from no less an authority than the 2008 Climate Change Act — approved almost unanimously by both Gordon Brown’s Labour government and Cameron’s Conservative opposition — that the need to cut Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions overrides all other concerns?
This is perhaps the worst of the many terrible things about the Climate Change Act: it is a charter for the stupid, the bossy and the mad to do damage that common sense and decency and due process would normally have prevented them from doing. Some people can’t afford to heat their homes in winter; some have had their tranquillity and their property nest egg trashed by renewable developments; some are struggling with higher business costs because of green levies; and pretty much all of us are aghast at the waste of schemes like the £216 million anaerobic digester scam, or Northern Ireland’s £1 billion Renewable Heat Incentive disaster, or Wales’s £18 million tidal energy flop.
Usually these would be lunacies that civic--minded politicians could seize on as perfect examples of the sort of nonsense to which they intend to put an immediate stop. But few if any MPs are in a position to do so, because they’re all up to the neck in the kind of green virtue-signalling which enabled all these loony projects in the first place.
It would be lovely to console ourselves that this is a Labour/Lib-Dem/Green problem. But no. The Conservatives have got it just as bad. And not just ideologically suspect ones like closet Lib Dem Greg Clark. Even ones with a reputation for reading the small print, understanding a bit of economics and being quite clever, like Michael Gove.
Anyone who’d hoped, as I did, that Gove would bravely take on the Green Blob in much the same way he faced up to the lefty Education Blob will have felt grievously let down by his speech earlier this week at the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. From accelerating sea levels and melting ice sheets, from ‘more acidic seas’ to threatened coral atolls, it reads like a moron’s compendium of all the half-baked alarmist clichés you’d fully expect to read in the Guardian’s environment pages. But in a speech by a Tory MP known for doing his due diligence and for being sympathetic towards smaller government? Really?
The Climate Change Act — and all the junk-science hysteria which fuelled it — ought to be a barn-door-sized target for a Tory party preparing to make the case for a more prosperous, sensible post-Brexit future. But no one, anywhere in the party, seems much interested in challenging the green ideology which has created so much harmful policy. It’s about time someone did.