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August 5, 2011updated 28 Jan 2016 6:25pm

From William Cash: Save our landscape

By William Cash

The threat from proposed wind turbines to Winwick village is being repeated with alarming regularity across the country

THE THREAT FROM proposed wind turbines to Winwick village, which is highlighted in our leader

This historic landscape is critical to local tourism. The proposed pylons and turbine site are, incredibly, right on the track of the 100 mile long Jack Mytton Way, Shropshire’s most famous bridleway, which draws thousands of riders, walkers and bicyclists each year. The trail is described by Shropshire Council as taking you through ’some of Shropshire’s most beautiful and unspoilt countryside’. The author Dr Katherine Swift lives at the Dower House in the grounds of Morville Hall, where she set her bestselling book, The Morville Hours. It is a literary meditation about creating a beautiful garden against the backdrop of not just the seasons but also the timeless arcadia around Bridgnorth.

There will be minimal ’ if any ’ benefit to the local community in terms of green energy derived from a wind energy policy that the coalition government have blindly committed to without stopping to think about the damage being done to Britain’s historic landscapes. There is nothing more loathsome than taxpayers having to subsidise false science at the expense of irreplaceable local heritage and tourism. Which is why I admire the Prince of Wales for refusing to allow any wind turbines on his Duchy of Cornwall estate and why he has let it be known that despite his passion for the environment, he will not support any wind farm developments. He has described them as ’horrendous blots on the landscape’.

I DO HAVE real sympathy with the Prince of Wales’s position when it comes to renewable energy and protecting the environment because the politics of the green movement can be complicated and paradoxical. The other day, I attended a drinks reception in the garden of Clarence House, hosted by a Korean business tycoon called Keith Ahae, to celebrate the naturalist photography of Keith’s father, Ahae. The family dynasty are strong supporters of sustainable gardening and forestry techniques and are putting on a travelling exhibition around the world of photographs to support their cause.

As the black tie dinner guests sauntered around the organically friendly gardens of Clarence House, which boasts special eco-friendly huts and a vegetable garden, it is easy to see why the Prince of Wales is such an activist and why he has no difficulty dismissing wind turbines. But as I heard the passing traffic thundering by along the Mall, where, I wondered, does the Prince of Wales stand on the controversial high-speed rail link (HS2) that will be cutting through swathes of rural England? The idea of the ’30 billion project is to reduce carbon emissions from heavy traffic and enable super-fast European-style rail travel from London to Birmingham in just 49 minutes.

It’s a tricky question. Can you be anti-wind farming and yet supportive of HS2? Are both projects equally ill-conceived or vain? The Wildlife Trust, which the Prince of Wales is patron of, has come out strongly against HS2, saying the ’need for sustainable transport systems’ must not be achieved at the ’expense of the natural environment’.

The route will cut through the Chilterns and rural Warwickshire, and has had opposition from high-profile figures such as Lord Rothschild, a friend of the Prince of Wales, whose Buckinghamshire estate would be within a mile of the track. It has even been reported that the Queen has expressed doubts about HS2, apparently because of concern that high-speed trains would upset her horses at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, which hosts the Royal Show.

Whatever one’s views are on HS2, at least anybody can take the train, just as anybody can use the motorways that also scar our countryside. With wind farming, or ’tax farms’ as they are called in the US, the only real beneficiaries (if you take the experiences of Denmark or Germany) are wealthy landowners, farmers and developers.

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At least nobody is suggesting that while the HS2 trains claim to travel at 220mph ’ making them faster that German trains ’ they will actually only go at about 45mph. That would be risible, and yet that is exactly what is happening with the wind farm debate.

The amount of energy that the actual turbines will collect, and return to the community, is feeble. As well as killing birds, wrecking local tourism and diminishing local property prices, there are few tangible community benefits, only increased energy costs (currently estimated at ’1,000 per person annually) and a desecrated national landscape. I urge you to support our Save Our Historic Landscape Campaign by emailing me with your comments and signing our petition.
Spear’s Masterpiece Breakfast went so well and we look forward to a similar debate next year with panellists arguing for their favourite work of art ’ or vintage car or watch ’ on a balloon debate basis, so the audience can vote for which masterpiece they want to win.

We didn’t have an actual vote this time but the winner, I thought, in terms of doing the most convincing job of trying to get the audience of collectors to get their credit cards out and buy something at the fair, was the historic racing car dealer Adrian Hamilton. He had a Ferrari 250 LM 1964 ex-racing car on his stand for sale (worth several million) as well as a Ferrari 330 America with an asking price of ’185,000.

When asked what he thought was a masterpiece, he wittily remarked that the true masterpiece of the debate was the government’s tax loophole ’ still open ’ that regards classic cars (even if they are worth millions), luxury watches and cases of fine wine as ’depreciating assets’ despite all evidence to the contrary. My advice to anybody who has money to invest today is forget about hedge funds, bonds and stocks: pile into vintage Maseratis, 1985 Chateau Latour or a safe full of Rolex Daytonas before it is too late.

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