Travel Theme: Environment

nature 2 - wind farm wales
A wind farm in Wales

Compared to the environmental impact of traditional energy sources, the environmental impact of wind power is relatively minor. Wind power consumes no fuel, and emits no air pollution, unlike fossil fuel power sources. The energy consumed to manufacture and transport the materials used to build a wind power plant is equal to the new energy produced by the plant within a few months. While a wind farm may cover a large area of land, many land uses such as agriculture are compatible, with only small areas of turbine foundations and infrastructure made unavailable for use. Wikipedia

What are your thoughts about wind turbines? Do you think they spoil the environment?


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I live in the UK, but when I was younger I spent several years travelling the world followed by a period living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

65 thoughts on “Travel Theme: Environment”

  1. As you will know, Jude, here in Shropshire there is a big anti-wind turbine lobby. Personally, I don’t object to them at all. They can add drama to a landscape. My only concern is that according to my chemical engineer niece, the ones with traditional flat blades are not very efficient. They need to have helical blades that operate more effectively. We do need to put our minds to accepting the need for clean non-oil energy. After all, what kinds of landscapes will we have in the future if we don’t get on with it.

    1. I quite agree Tish. We need to put in more effort to provide clean energy and use all the natural resources that we can, including off-shore and wave technology. I’m sure over time (and with the will) these wind turbines can be much more effective.

  2. The turbines in your photo blend in well Jude, in that I had to look for them. As you know from your visits, Norfolk has a fair number of these. The offshore wind farms can add to a coastal scene, and I quite like to see them in large numbers, where they can appear almost alien, and futuristic. I am not so happy with the ‘odd’ ones, sticking up from a field, spoiling the look of an area, as in and around Swaffham.
    There are also increasing numbers of ‘solar farms’ springing up. I am yet to be convinced about their ugly takeover of agricultural land.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. I have yet to see a solar farm other than on the TV or in a magazine. I guess we love to see the open fields of various crops and these are rather alien. Perhaps we shall have to get used to them. I do think that new housing developments should include alternative sources of heating such as solar heating panels, biomass stoves or ground source heat pumps and triple glazing should be a minimum specification. We should be doing all that we can to reduce our need for gas and oil.

  3. The absolute truth: they give me the creeps. When I look at them I feel we’re been invaded by space creatures.
    Aside from that, I’m still not sure about them as they do kill birds from what I’ve heard. 😦

    1. I think that is the problem. People are ignorant. We don’t seem to have a proper informed debate about the pros and cons. I’m not an expert, but I do believe that we have to do something!

      Thanks for the link, I’ll pop over 🙂

  4. Are you aware that wind turbines kill hundreds thousands of birds every year? It might have a very negative impact (diseases on paths of birds’ migration). There was no serious research in this area.

    1. As I have said on other comments, I am not an expert in wind turbine technology. My question was do you think they spoil the environment? As in the look of the landscape.It wasn’t meant to spark off any argument, but I would like to know where you get the stats from for your claim of ‘hundreds of thousands’ of birds.

  5. I too rather enjoy the surreal sight of wind turbines marching across the hills. I also listen with incense to the often ill-informed passion of crusaders against them because of their impact on human health. For me, an opinion needs a lot more knowledge than I have.

    1. My thoughts entirely Meg. We need much better information about them as to their effectiveness and possible ill-effects. There may be a good reason not to place them in certain environments, but there are surely plenty of places that they can be situated. We cannot rely on oil or gas forever.

  6. An interesting debate you’ve started here, Jude. First, how do we define environmental impact? Wind farms require no fuel to operate therefore no pollution: good for the environment. Aesthetically they blight the landscape: bad for the environment – especially if you’re living in sight of one. I think there’s probably a touch of nimbyism in all of us here. Yes, I would agree that wind farms may be the way forward for sustainable natural resources but I’d be mighty fed up if it was deemed that the Surrey Hills were a designated spot for a few turbines. Imagine Blackdown…
    Am off to Cornwall at the weekend and will be driving across Bodmin where there are plenty of turbines. Last time we went that way we had all the windows open and noticed how much noise they make. Will do a bit of research this time, just to check. As for killing birds – no – birds fly into all manner of things – including my patio doors and windscreen. And it’s very likely that a few random cows that grazed near to a wind farm were down on their milk yield – but one (or even two) swallow(s) does/do not make a summer.

    1. Phew Jenny! Thank you for your balanced comment. This wasn’t intended to start off a debate on the pros and cons of wind turbines, merely whether one considers them a blot on the landscape! Perhaps the best idea is to put them into the sea – though having heard the news about tidal technology proposed off Swansea and the effect that might have on fish, I despair that we (as in mankind) will ever sort out the energy crisis.

  7. I don’t mind them at all Jude. Like Tish I have someone in the energy industry (Dave) and it’s the efficiency part that’s a problem. At this point as I understand it, wind energy needs to be subsidized.

  8. I don’t see them very often, so the occasional sight of them doesn’t really bother me. Reading some of the previous comments though, it sounds as though there are some real negatives, but on the whole, I’m sure they do a great job. The ones in your photo are so far away, that the beautiful landscape took my eye away from them. 🙂

    1. It is obviously a divisive subject Sylvia. I know that from living here in Shropshire. Personally I don’t find them particularly ugly. Whether or not they are effective is another matter and not one that I am qualified to answer 🙂

  9. Until my most recent drive to Scotland (two weeks ago) I was quite a fan of wind turbines – I thought they looked quite majestic, standing proudly on the hillside and turning slowly. However, my opinion is slightly changed because there just seemed to be so many of them at one point on my journey north. Hundreds of them, perhaps, quite close together, and I started to think that maybe they did spoil the look of the landscape. So, I am now in two minds about them (aesthetically).

  10. They make me think of War of the Worlds but they do serve their purpose. Your photo is stunning Jude, and to be honest, I didn’t even notice the turbines until I looked a second time, so you prove an excellent point 😉

    1. I seem to have opened a can of worms here Sherri. I can’t honestly say I see them as being any worse than the ugly pylons we have striding across the countryside and the noise they make!

      1. Turbines are a touchy subject in blogland Jude, I’ve seen other posts about them and they bring out both sides of the argument. Just like global warming :/

  11. Many of our midwest and southwest states, including Colorado, have multiple wind farms. The turbines – as others have said – are mesmerizing. Like giant alien creatures is a good description. I could stare at one for hours.

    If you’ve never seen a wind farm, your first opportunity is a wow moment. Even second or third time is a wow. After that, thinking about them in proliferation I wonder about sight blight, bird kill (they do in large numbers) and the growing complaints about noise pollution from neighbors when the turbines are near residential areas. I am also skeptical about the degree of subsidizing required, and the probability it will never be a financially sustainable energy source. Colorado is a mining and oil and gas state. We’re clean; we’re environmentally conscious and we have a thriving economy without requiring taxpayers to subsidize the industry’s jobs. And we’re not destroying the planet. I’m a proponent of a balanced, environmentally sound approach to energy independence, but it has to be financially self-supporting within a reasonable timeframe.

    1. You obviously know much more about this than I do Sammy. My point was whether or not the “look” of them was offensive or not. I don’t know enough about the energy industry to pass comment on it. I do think there is a lot of misinformation about wind turbines though and perhaps governments should address this.

      1. Yup, getting honest answers from politicians with agendas is never easy (impossible?). I always say “follow the money – who’s giving it; who’s receiving it; how are the taxpayers being dinged”. That usually gives a pretty clear picture of how facts might be twisted.

        Fortunately here in Colorado, we have a governor and state legislature who care deeply about both the economy and environmental issues. I feel like we are lucky to strive for a balanced approach ( that probably doesn’t satisfy anyone 100%). If only the federal government would keep their bureaucratic paws off our states’ rights!!

        Sorry, wouldn’t have jumped into the politics if other commenters hadn’t 😋

        Back to your original photo and question – the turbines are majestic and surreal. And there’s no question they change the scenery (for better or worse remains to be determined).

  12. I don’t mind them at all but I wonder why they are never decorated. Don’t you think they could be painted to look like trees or something? Or maybe I’ve lost the plot!

  13. I like them! There seems to be a lot of opposition to them here in Australia, but I think they are much less unsightly and better for the environment than the alternative…I’ve often stopped to photograph them when doing road trips.

  14. I think Gilly’s lost the plot 🙂 🙂 Well, just maybe- for Christmas? What do you think, Jude?
    You’ve certainly started something here, lass! I’m wishing I lived in Colorado with Sammy’s sensible folk 🙂 I’ve always rather like them, myself. There’s a big one up at Hart Village which contrasts rather nicely with an ‘old style’ windmill. It doesn’t appear to me to make a noise. There’s also a big wind farm off our coast at Redcar, and from this distance I do’t mind them either. And I love looking out for them when I’m flying south . I guess I like them 🙂 🙂

    1. Oh, Jo, and it started as just a lovely Welsh picture (a nod to St David’s day) with a link to the environment! Shall stick to cake and kittens in future 😦

  15. As an environmentalist I should be all in favour of wind turbines but I’m still not convinced, whilst they do have a place in energy production does the cost outweigh their actual usefulness. Aesthetically wind turbines don’t bother me at all, in fact I find they quite enjoyable to watch, there’s two 2MW turbines a couple of miles up the road from me, 2MW ones are the ones you see most onshore at the moment, they’re 100m tall , the blades are 50m long and the housing at the top is about the size of a double decker bus . In terms of bird deaths, the newer turbines (2MW) being bigger than ones installed 10 years ago or more (0.5MW) are bigger and less likely to be hit by birds, the main issue which is now addressed through planning in the UK is not sitting them on migration routes or nesting sites. The one big drawback is there’s no way to store the electricity they produce for later, so unless you need the electricity now, essentially they can be turning for the sake of it, also they’re dependant on the availability of wind which may blow at times when you don’t need the power and doesn’t blow when you do need the power, that’s a bit simplistic but I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m trying to say.

    1. Thanks for the clear explanation Kev. It looks as though there is some way to go to making them more effective. I didn’t know that the electricity produced isn’t able to be stored, that does sound like a failure in the system. As it was the aesthetics I was after opinions on I’ll take yours as an OK. 🙂

  16. Wow Jude, you sure stirred up a windstorm with this one! I have mixed feelings about them. Aesthetically I think they’re kind of cool, especially as they are always so symmetrically placed. But my brother used to run a big power company in the midwest and he told us they simply cant generate enough power generation to make it worth deploying them more extensively. He says the best answer is nuclear energy but people are too afraid of it (and from my perspective probably rightly so!)

    1. Hi Tina, thanks for joining in with the discussion. If wind farms aren’t the answer, aesthetically or not, then we are going to have to explore other methods of generating power.
      I think I’ll keep away from discussing nuclear energy though… 😉

  17. Beautiful photo, Jude. 🙂 I’m always tempted to pull over and take a shot of some of our wind turbines but now I’ll be more prepared for the inevitable discussion. 😉

  18. It makes sense, particularly in the large empty expanses here. I’ve only seen them from afar and they look interesting. However, I wonder if they are noisy, particularly for locals in the country areas who aren’t used to noise pollution in their areas.

    1. Well from the responses I have had it appears they are not that effective anyway, which I had heard, but as I keep saying I am not an expert on the pros and cons of wind turbines. From a photographer’s POV I rather like them.

  19. I’ve always loved wind farms and wind turbines. Himself hates them and thinks they are a blot on the landscape. I loved to drive into Palm Springs and see the 3200 wind turbines in the San Gorgonio Pass. Do you know it?
    Sorry for that mess, Jude. I don’t know how to put a hyperlink on a comment.

  20. Well this has stirred up a debate Jude. I rather like the whooshing sound they make, rather hypnotic, but if I lived with in hearing distance of them I may change my mind as that sound 24/7 would drive me crazy. As for looks, when they are way off in the distance, as in your photo, they are an interesting part of the composition. But if they were planted too near houses, farms or villages I don’t think they would be appreciated so I think what I am saying is I like the thought and sight of them, but only if the position is well away from civilisation.

    1. I don’t think they plant them close to housing, but I can’t say that for sure. Here they tend to be in the countryside, on top of hills, which is what people object to as they ‘spoil’ the landscape. They are obviously very divisive objects 🙂
      and from what I have learned on here, not very efficient.

      1. There are quite a lot around Australia, but not as many as I thought we would see considering how windy it gets and how much space we have out here.

  21. Interesting debate indeed Jude! I’m in the *for* cheering section. I’ve seen several wind farms and they are so impressive. I love the majestic look and I find the gentle swooshing of the blades mesmerizing.
    Given a choice, I would much rather have a wind farm in my backyard than any other kind of power generator … Like say coal or nuclear 🙂

    1. Thanks Jo 🙂
      I shall have to try and investigate the noise of them the next time I head down to Cornwall as there are quite a lot down there. They have never bothered me either in looks.

  22. A very nice picture, I don’t think the wind turbines spoil the scenery at all. After all, it is a small price to pay for a cleaner energy source. I think in general most people don’t mind the wind turbines, as long as you don’t get them in your own back yard:) One of the existing developments ongoing in offshore wind farms. They are not in anyones backyard, and they typically have higher efficiency.

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