COUNTRYSIDE NOTES - HOW GREEN IS GREEN? AUGUST 2019
In principle caring for the environment is a good and necessary thing but establishing different methods of curbing climate change comes at a cost that eco warriors don’t always take into account. Last spring Extinction Rebellion protested calling for a reduction in CO2emissions. They came from all over the country and, unless they were within walking or cycling distance, used carbon emitting transport to get there. Perhaps the biggest hypocrites were actress Emma Thompson who flew in from Los Angeles and those who ordered 650 white roses imported from Bolivia to hand out to MPs as a publicity gimmick. 10,000 police were mobilised from across the country to deal with the disturbances causing even more pollution! And why is a third runway planned at Heathrow when car users are being penalised within London? Even electric cars need charging! Only a small percentage of blades for wind turbines are manufactured in the UK, everything else is imported. Wherever they are sited they require a substantial base, in most cases using hundreds of tons of concrete for each, miles of huge underground cables and a substation connecting them to the national grid. Onshore wind turbines require service roads. There is major disruption to the area when wind farms are under construction. 75% of the world’s carbon storing heather moorland is in the UK and yet there are places where turbines have been built on it. Land on which they stand is leased from landowners who receive several thousand pounds annually for each one - a lucrative source of income. There are nearly 500 offshore turbines around the East Anglian coastline plus 175 in the Outer Thames Estuary comprising the 122 square mile London Array, the world’s second biggest off shore complex. Cables from the 67 turbine Dudgeon windfarm 20 miles off Cromer come ashore at Weybourne and are connected to the National Grid at Necton substation by 30 miles of underground cable. Even though they occupy acres of productive farmland the hundreds of land-based solar farms are more environmentally friendly, being low to the ground they are less obtrusive and sheep can be grazed beneath them. The biomass power station at Thetford was built to use burnable local waste - poultry manure and forestry byproducts such as wood, bark, chippings and sawdust. However chipped tree roots couldn’t be used as planned because flints mixed in with them damaged the machines resulting in lorry loads of chicken manure having to be imported. Anaerobic digesters, in theory, are perhaps the most efficient in reducing carbon emissions. They utilise waste products using a process similar to a cow’s digestive system which produces gas used to generate electricity. However locally, hundreds of acres of rye and maize are specially grown to feed the anaerobic digester recently built at Swaffham. These crops require soil preparation, sprays, fertilizers and haulage. How green is renewable energy? Carbon emissions resulting from manufacturing, transportation and maintenance need to be recognised as being part of the equation.