Windmills in the Head

Georges Michel. Windmills at Montmartre
Georges Michel. Windmills at Montmartre
They formed part our historic landscape in all their manifestations and together with water mills fed us and clothed us before we turned to other means to our ends, careless of the balance between pollution and production.
Now that we are reaping the consequences of our lack, first of knowledge and then, unpardonably, of care we are looking back to natural sources of energy: sun, water and wind.

And what do we end up with? These monstrosities.
wind turbines

Flying over Spain white rows of the things mark the line of every hilltop…beautiful Lake Nicaragua is desecrated by them…
Wherever they are placed they are aesthetic crimes.

But we can become accustomed to aesthetic crimes….we quite like old mill buildings once it is not our generation feeding the maw of the looms and we can browse arty crafty boutiques run by crafty arty people before stopping for a sustainable if not sustaining lunch.
In time we will be accustomed to wind turbines too.

But why should we be? They are inefficient, their unpredictable output requiring power plants to be on permanent stand by…..and they are a scam in which the taxpayer is scalped to produce private profit.

As may be plain, I am agin them.

They were making their appearance as I was leaving France…and locally a group of farmers seeking to install these horrors on their land were threatening people living in the lotissement downhill of the proposed site with consequences should they protest. Those wind turbines were going in!
Luckily, the lotissement dwellers took umbrage at the bullying.
Now that the French have discovered commuting, the traditional village power brokers don’t have it all their own way any more…..people moving out to live in the country hold down decent, responsible jobs…they don’t have land in the commune…it’s more difficult to threaten them.’
They banded together and all these years down the line they have finally won. Those wind turbines will not be going in.

The resistance to the installation of wind turbines is growing. Especially after the hike in the price of electricity paid by the consumer in order to subsidise them….fifteen percent on your bill in these days of straightened circumstances tends to get your dander up, after all and if that doesn’t rouse the somnolent dander it is guaranteed to spring to life on learning that the very people on the local council voting for wind turbines to be installed are those owning the land where the said installation will take place and for the which installation they will be handsomely paid.

Decentralisation of power, for which France has so often been congratulated, is nothing more than an enlargement of the trough so that more snouts can find fulfilment at the expense of the taxpayer – that rara avis who has less than the tax efficient three children, hasn’t enough money to be able to hide it in investing in fictitious resorts out in the Dom Toms or in three legged racehourses at Chantilly and is not able to reduce his liability by having several publicly funded posts the income from which is counted separately when arriving at his liability to tax.

Decentralisation of power has meant that people making decisions are very close to the action….and that requires an advanced appreciation of ethics – something not necessarily conferred on maires together with the tricolour sash of office.
Usually their activities are greeted with the Gallic shrug of resignation….
What do you expect? Of course he’s going to feather his nest….

Sometimes it goes wrong.
In February 2010 a violent storm hit the Atlantic coast of France. At La Faute sur Mer, in the Vendee, the sea wall gave way and 29 people – mostly elderly – died, drowned in their houses.
Stones were inevitably turned….it appeared that the maire and his deputy had actively pursued development in an area which was known to be prone to flooding.
That the deputy’s son in law was the estate agent pushing the sales.
That it was stipulated that the houses had to be on one floor only…where flood risk regulations demand two floors so that people have a chance to escape the flood waters even if taken by surprise….

After the usual kerfuffles – it was argued that it was the fault of the purchasers for purchasing where they did but that time honoured chestnut did not wash this time…the case came to court and the maire has been sentenced to be jugged for four years. He is horrified, and is, of course, appealing the judgement.

But that he came to court at all marks a change from the virtual immunity of elected officials from prosecution and it is this which is worrying the lobbying organisation representing the promoters of wind turbine installation in France…France Energie Eolienne….which has written to all the Deputies in the National Assembly to warn them of the terrible consequences if the law which governs the behaviour of elected officials is not changed.

It appears that consumer groups have been advising those who resist the installation of wind turbines on how to bring their maire to book….shock, horror, outrage on the part of FEE.
If this goes on, maires will be too frightened of being taken to court to permit more installations.
Something must be done!

Their answer is to relax the law which governs the actions of elected snouts in troughs….so that maires will not be inhibited from setting up wind turbine installations on the farms of their grandmother’s cousin once removed…or even on their own.
Considering what the snouts have managed to do while the current law is in force relaxing it looks to me like a recipe for rampant corruption…

But there is always hope.

Hope that their action in lobbying to free maires from the fear of prosecution might bring about two desirable objectives.

To take a closer look at what passes for local government in France, a closer look at the magouilles, large and small, which favour the staus quo and those with status.

And to take a much closer look at the wind turbine industry…its efficiency, its value for money.
Never mind the eco publicity on recycled loo paper….follow the loot.

28 thoughts on “Windmills in the Head”

  1. Government is all for green technology, no matter what the cost, because ultimately, government isn’t the paying for it – citizens are. But it’s the politicians who reap the accolades for being “environmentally friendly,” no matter how effective – or ineffective – those efforts ultimately turn out to be. I’m all for making the best use of our resources, but the green movement, as embraced by many, is one of the major frauds of our era.

  2. They’ve invaded the U.S. as well, lining the hillside entering the Coachella Valley, etc. The two photos are quite the metaphor for then and now.

    And, while I’m here, wishing you and your very happy, peaceful, healthy holiday time followed by same in 2015.

  3. These Bird Cuisinarts are a topic of hot debate in Hawaii. They have proliferated across the islands and stand, in my opinion, in jarring contrast to the gentle green hills of our little island home. Our State has set aggressive goals that would by 2030 have 30%- 50% of our electricity needs supplied by alternative power including wind turbines. Beyond the visual blight and problems from battery explosions and fires, I believe there is a real cost to the acceptance of ugliness over beauty in the name of progress. Interestingly there seems a generational component. The younger visitors seem not to care and consider the wind turbines as a normal part of the environment while the curmudgeonly set, of which I am a proud member, finds them damaging to what makes our islands so special.

    1. I’m with the curmudgeons…what a surprise!

      I could weep when I see the beauty of Lake Nicaragua despoiled by these monstrosities…and the bloody things aren’t even efficient!
      I went back to our house in France after exchanging it for a house in Spain and was horrified to see one of the best views over the valley ruined by the intrusion of these useless, ugly beasts.

      Oddly enough, given the proliferation in Spain, our valley there is clear of the brutes….

    1. A joy to see him given a swingeing sentence….but I bet it gets lightened on appeal and I’ll be astonished if the appeal court uphold the personal financial liability…he’s a maire, after all….
      I remember the aftermath of Xynthia,,,some of the locals were less than sympathetic to those who had lost members of their family – they weren’t from round there, after all…and that seems to have been the maire’s attitude too,

  4. Political corruption – tell me about it. It’s all too normal these days. As I live in east Belfast, there’s no prospect of any wind turbines anywhere near me. But I’m aware of all the objections to them and broadly sympathise. You could also have mentioned the noise problem – a lot of people find the noise quite excruciating and disturbing. But the latest development is wind trees, which might be both more efficient and less unsightly:

    1. It was the potential noise problem that people were objecting too locally…when the protest started they had no idea of whose hand was in whose pocket…but by the end they discovered what is so beautifully termed the ‘pot au vin’.

      Those wind trees looked great fun….just watch an ‘independent’ lab rubbish them if they are actually any good. Might upset somebody’s bottom line….

  5. On a trip into the beautiful Mosel Valley in Germany last September, we were astonished at the sight of hundreds and hundreds of these monstrosities cropped up along the gorgeous countryside. Your seawall story reminds me of all those who build on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, an area sure to be wiped off the face of the earth in upcoming hurricanes. At least they have an inkling of the threat looming ahead of them although how they get property insurance is a mystery to me.

    Wishing you and yours a Happy and most of all Healthy Costa Rican Christmas full of cheer, Helen. Meeting you has been a highlight of my entry into blogging.

    1. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends and may the year to come give you nothing but happiness.
      I have had any number of new windows opened to me through your blog…for the which many thanks….and I still covet that wreath…

      As a lover of language you probably know that ‘windmills in the head; is a way of describing an idiotic project and is noted in Francis Grose’ Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue of 1811.

      The Loire Valley downstream of Amboise is another area which would worry me…the levee walls are well above the land behind….one breach there and a disaster is guaranteed. All the usual scoffing goes on…it couldn’t happen, etc…but with reduced maintenance and climate change you wouldn’t catch me living there.

  6. We’ve had wind turbines for so long in Mid-Wales that I honestly barely notice them most of the time. Thankfully they haven’t been slapped down piecemeal near villages and the planning procedure seems to be much longer, more detailed and open to objections nowadays, with permission often being refused.
    The article from Le Monde was horrific in the detail of the maire’s indifference to the danger his commune’s inhabitants were in, even on the day of the storm itself. Any system which allows the same man or woman to be in charge for so long seems to me to be a recipe for arrogant neglect and corruption.

    1. The attitude not only of the maire but of several of the ‘locals’ was callous in the extreme.
      You are quite right that power resting in the same hands for long periods is extremely dangerous and I would very much like to see a ‘one mandate only’ system – and a genealogist on hand to vet the family connections of any like;y successor!

  7. Such a difficult dilemma. Balancing the needs of a society with the realities of resource allocation is a difficult and challenging endeavor. I’m not sure which is better, installing wind turbines or allowing more fossil fuel development with ensuing pollution, etc.. It’s clearly a toss-up for my small brain to decide but I continue to hope those much smarter than me can sort it out with thoughtful decisions made. In the meantime though, the idea that pols bully or profit at the expense of those they serve really riles my goat and all energy to stop/contain the haves’ abuse of the have-nots should be paramount. Sadly this issue has been a problem throughout the ages and as a card carrying member of the powerless, I’m not sure how to change it but definitely think it needs changing.

    1. Start by not putting yourself down…In my experience there are plenty of people champing at the bit to do that for you
      You have, we all have, talents.and the society that does not use and encourage them is the poorer for it.
      Of course you can work out resource allocation…if you can access unbiased information, which is becoming more difficult these days…and can over ride vested interests…the challenge is to be able to work out there you stand, find like minded people – and kick up hell.

      I’m a card carrying member of the powerless too..but I keep on trucking…

  8. They really are ugly things aren’t they? As you say “follow the loot”. Isn’t everything about money these days?

  9. What an interesting post, Helen. I don’t think the province I live in has a single wind turbine. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own energy vs. environment woes. Here the issue is water and dams. Our government just this past week approved a huge dam (or maybe I should say damn) project up north called Site C. It will flood vast amounts of the Peace River farm land. It never would have got off the ground here in the southern part of the province where the population is concentrated.

    1. A hydroelectric project here has raised a lot of questions…as mostly land occupied by indigenous people was affected. They felt that their rights were being ignored and although a change of government has tried to ameliorate the situation it really is too late to make a big difference.
      Here there is the possibility of geo thermal energy…but the National Parks hold the best sources and they are out of bounds….

      What annoys me about the wind turbine business is all the guff about renewable energy which neatly hides the non renewable sums of public money going into private purses.

  10. Energy is a big rip off everywhere!
    Most UK energy is French owned and profits go there.
    Windmills do not appear to be worth it.

  11. I am all for being green where possible, but this is one of the unattractive consequences of being green! There must be some attractive consequences. However, they escape me at the moment.

    I hope that you are enjoying the festive season and Happy Christmas to you.

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes….
      I’m all for geothermal where possible and thorium powered nuclear where not;;;;;but there aren’t enough chancers involved in those to bring them to fruition…

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