Community Opposition Could Kill Wind Power’s Development

on Jun 3, 2012

In the search for alternative energy source, human society has once again turned to wind. They have been using its raw power for powering mechanics for centuries and now that power is harnessed to produce electricity. Wind farms, consisting of tens and even hundreds of giant wind turbines, have been built all over the world to “tame the storm”. But these industrial installations aren’t warmly received everywhere, with concerned voices being raised by the local communities. This could force wind farm developers to be more cautious and slow down the use of wind energy on a larger scale.

At a town meeting held on May 1 in Shelburne Massachusetts, people voted against a proposal for four wind turbines to be put on top of Mt. Massaemet. Voters turned out in record numbers to “send a message to Boston that says: this is our town, we want to make our decisions about how we use the land in our town” according to town resident Dave Patrick. He also added that “industrial wind turbines seem to be incompatible with this area” and that people are concerned about how they will maintain their livelihood. In Shelburne, farming is a way of life but the town community fears that the new wind farm could change this.

But the Shelburne case isn’t isolated and it outlines a bigger picture. It shows that many local communities aren’t willing to jump right on the wind power bandwagon and feel that wind farms are a blight on their landscape. This is especially true for communities, heavily relying on farming for their livelihood.
The main argument of the wind farms’ opponents is that these installations have a negative effect on the natural environment of the designated areas. The most recent example of this kind of outcry comes from Scotland, where just over a month ago the government gave the go-ahead to a massive 103-turbine wind farm, which would be the third biggest in the country. The Viking project will be located on the Shetland Islands and it was immediately met with fierce resistance from environmental organizations. Opponents of the project warned the giant installation could have an “unimaginable” impact on the Scottish moors and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said rare species such as whimbrels and red throated divers could be at risk from the huge rotating blades of the turbines.!m[](/uploads/story/28/thumbs/turbine_inline.png)

Justified or not, the concerns of local communities and environmental organizations, and their resistance to numerous wind farm projects is most likely to have an increasing impact on future development of wind farms, setting limitations on their expansion. An increasingly careful selection of designated areas for wind farms is the likely scenario. Also, wind farm projects might be scaled down a bit under the pressure from different organizations to limit their impact on the environment. Giant wind farm developments such as the Viking project will most probably carried through to completion because of the massive investments and the government support behind them, but the outcry will make the passing of such projects more difficult in the future.
All this could prevent rapid adoption of wind energy on a global scale and turn a potentially endless source of renewable energy into a small energy branch with a limited contribution to the energy mix.


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