Over the last few months I have been watching with mixed feelings as theRampion wind farm emerges like a great monster from the sea off Brighton beach. It has happened so quickly: one morning in the early summer a few small grey stumps appeared on the previously flat horizon. Only weeks later, the first turbines were up, instantly giving the familiar sea view a new, industrial edge. Since then more and more have appeared, row upon row of them. Though they are eight miles offshore, they dominate the view from the beach now, and create strange optical illusions; in some weathers they look close, and in others very far away. Occasionally, on a seemingly clear day, they inexplicably disappear from view. There is no getting around the fact that this is a major development that has changed the landscape of the area forever. Rampion is one of the biggest wind farms in the UK; there are 116 turbines out there, each with a tower 80 metres tall and weighing 200 tonnes, topped off with three 55-metre blades. The developer, E.On, predicts that the farm will generate its first electricity before the end of the year (the project is – remarkably, when you think about the kind of delays that afflict the construction of nuclear power stations – running ahead of schedule). When it is fully up and running, the turbines will provide enough energy to supply almost 347,000 homes, nearly half the households in Sussex. Clearly, to oppose such a project at this time of climate crisis would be the worst kind of nimbyism. Nevertheless, I have to admit there was a part of me that would have preferred it to be doing its excellent work somewhere where I didn’t have to look at it. However, as time has passed an unexpected thing has happened. Not only have I become used to the wind farm; I’ve grown fond of it. Rampion may be a towering presence, but it is a positive one, a daily reminder that – as Trump rips up the Paris agreement and blocks the latest round of climate talks in Bonn – progress is being made, albeit too slowly, and that there are people out there finding solutions. What’s more, there are clear signs that offshore developments such as Rampion might form an important part of a greener future for the UK.
Guardian 11th Nov 2017 read more »