The saying, Not In My Back Yard, has spawned the acronym NIMBY, which in turn is generally used as a term of disapprobation, if not of actual abuse.
Disapprobation may be justified where NIMBYs are hypocritical about developments, approving of them elsewhere, but claiming special reasons why they shouldn’t have to put up with them in their neighbourhood. However, so long as not accompanied by justified charges of hypocrisy, then I think NIMBYism is actually rather laudable. After all, who is better-placed than locals to understand their own area and to defend it against the depredations of Big Green?
Which brings us to recent big news on the BBC website:
Some rather well-known NIMBYs have found themselves the subject of the articlei with the above heading, due to their opposition to plans for a wind farm in their metaphorical back yard. Of the three signatories who signed, only Griff Rhys Jones lives nearby, to the best of my knowledge; I assume Dame Joanna has been moved to write due to the impact onBenjamin Britten’s Snape Maltings Concert Hall, and that Ralph Fiennes is concerned both because he was born in Ipswich and following his involvement with the recent film about Sutton Hoo (The Dig).
Dame Joanna Lumley has warned that the creation of two windfarms off the Suffolk coast could see the area “disappear under a sea of concrete”.
The actress is one of 17 people, including actor Ralph Fiennes and comedian Griff Rhys Jones, who signed a letter stating the windfarms were “anything but green”…
…The letter, published in The Times, said the plans for the sites, named East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two, were “destructive”.
The main concerns presented in the letter were about the building of onshore substations and the running of underground cables to transport the electricity from turbines.
It stated there would be “six further towering structures, sacrificing land at Snape, close to the 6th Century Anglo-Saxon cemetery and home of Benjamin Britten’s Snape Maltings Concert Hall”
The story continues:
The letter said the plans “threaten fragile ecosystems, diverse wildlife, Aldeburgh and the thriving local tourist economy”.
“Planned industrialisation on this scale is a national issue and anything but green,” it said.
And of course they are right. Those words sum up the situation regarding wind farms on- and off-shore all over and around the British Isles.
I’m not going to criticise Dame Joanna for hypocrisy, given the gushing blurb for her ITV programme called “Joanna Lumley and the Human Swan”ii, at which point she seemd to be in favour of off-shore wind farms:
As Sacha heads further north, Joanna catches up with her on the North Yorkshire coast at the site of one of the 40 offshore wind farms in the UK. They take a boat to get up close to one of the turbines and learn that, in 2020, for the first time Britain generated more electricity from renewables than from fossil fuels.
No, metaphorically, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent.iii
Griff Rhys Jones, on the other hand, has always been on the side of the righteous:
Griff Rhys Jones attacks green energy ‘desecration’ of countryside
That was the heading to an article in the Guardian from as long ago as 22nd May 2013iv, and I can’t improve on his words, which form the sub-heading to the article: “The comedian says renewable energy projects are subsidy-hunting free enterprise, despoiling ‘pristine landscapes’.”
If it’s one cheer for Dame Joanna (whose position on the proposed development is very welcome) then it’s three cheers for Griff:
“[The] government is hiding behind subsidy-hunting free enterprise. The result of this has been and is random desecration, with little or no accountability,” he said of windfarms that he felt were badly sited. He also suggested the intermittent nature of renewable energy undermined its environmental credentials. “How can we effect [sic] to be green, when we use gas from uncertain fossil fuel driven sources as back up? It is logical to ask why we are assaulting our shrinking countryside in the name of this apparent hypocrisy.”
A “distorted” planning system was failing to protect green spaces, he added, but “aiding and abetting an exponential grab at the countryside.”
Instead of solar power, which “doesn’t operate” at night, he said he would like to see more nuclear power, such as two new planned reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk, because it would cut carbon emissions, provide more power than solar and had a small physical footprint. “I am not a climate change sceptic. I am a solution sceptic,” he said.
Perhaps if the powers-that-be had listened to him then, we wouldn’t be facing our current energy plight. Hilariously, by the way, that Guardian article from almost nine years ago ended thus:
Jeremy Leggett, whose comment article in the Guardian Jones was responding to, said: “I’m glad that Griff’s whole belief system on energy is out in the open now. It’s more useful to have these kinds of debates in a holistic context. Let’s see how his case fares in reversing the opinion polls that show big majorities of people favouring ‘scattered whirly-gigs, and glinting solar panels’, and believing – as the Germans are showing every day – that in fact they do a rather good job of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.”
As for Ralph Fiennes, I can find no record of him making public pronouncements with regard to climate change or wind farms before he signed the recent letter of opposition. Two cheers, I think.
Opposition to environmentally destructive industrial scale developments is always to be welcomed. It would be particularly welcome if Griff Rhys-Jones’ co-signatories looked beyond Suffolk and objected also to the great environmental damage being caused all over the UK in the misguided belief that trashing the UK’s environment is a price worth paying because by reducing (actually, exporting) our greenhouse gas emissions, we can prevent dangerous climate change. We can’t. Surely in this week of all weeks, geopolitical reality must be starting to dawn on those who seem determined to ruin this country’s environment and energy security.
In the meantime, let’s hear it for the NIMBYs.
iii Luke 15:7