worry and windmills – first published 10 October 2013

I’d love to take credit for this beautiful photo of turbine construction taken by William Hall
I’d love to take credit for this beautiful photo of turbine construction taken by William Hall

Something almost everyone does is worry too much. We all have those wake in the night moments where something goes round and round in our head and seems like the worst problem in the world. Night time worries are the worst of the lot because everything seems very bleak in the wee small hours. Usually, by morning, when we wake bleary eyed, perspective is regained and we wonder why we blew it all out of proportion. Back in October 2013 my big, wake in the night worry was about my job and how I was going to get another one.

10 October 2013

Worrying is something I try hard not to do. In the main I’m fairly successful but Commando is less so. Once upon a time I used to be the world’s worst worrier and one of the ways I’ve tried to deal with it is to imagine the worst case scenario. That may sound like a bad idea but, trust me, it works. I ask myself, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ When you stop to think about it, it’s not normally as bad as all that.

Once I’ve worked that out I think about how I’d deal with it if it turned out for the worst. Obviously, right now, my main worry is work and money. Will I be able to get another job? How will we manage without my wages? What is the worst case scenario? I can’t get work and we struggle for money. We’ve struggled before, we survived. We’re both sensible, we don’t have debts. We will survive, maybe with a little less stuff but stuff isn’t everything.

The next piece of the stop worrying plan is to think if there is anything I can do to change the situation? If there is, then obviously I go back to point two and work out a plan. If there isn’t then there really is no point worrying so I have to put it from my mind. With my current situation there is nothing I can do to change it, no way I can keep my job (well not unless I want to relocate to the Frozen North). What I can do though is stay positive and do my best to get another job. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.

The final thing is to learn something. I’m a great believer in learning lessons in life. In my humble opinion the Buddhists have got it right, we are all here to learn lessons and, if we don’t, the same old problems will keep cropping up until we start to take notice. So what can I learn from this? Nothing is permanent. There are no guarantees in life. Enjoy the moment. Stuff doesn’t make you happy. All those possessions just bring worry, getting them, keeping them safe, greed, envy… I know all this, maybe I just needed a little reminding.

Oddly there seems to be a great deal of worrying going on in a certain part of Hampshire at the moment and it all revolves around windmills but the kind of windmill I visited at the beginning of September. These windmills are not strictly windmills at all. No milling of any kind is involved. They’re actually wind turbines. You know the tall white things with three blades on top.

From Wikimedia Commons by Kwerdenker
From Wikimedia Commons by Kwerdenker

The problem, as some people see it, is plans for two wind farms on the Hampshire Downs close to Winchester. The locals are up in arms. They say it’s a waste of time and money because wind farms don’t generate much electricity. They also say it will spoil the Hampshire Downs and call it a “potential proliferation of industrial scale development in beautiful, unspoilt Hampshire countryside.”

In fact they are very vocal about the whole thing. Chairman of the protest group, Douglas Paterson, stated that the wind farms are “subsidy-harvesting machines that contribute almost nothing to our electricity requirements. It is industrialization of a very precious resource for no significant benefit for the general population, only a massive benefit financially for the developer and the landowner. Wind energy is completely wrong. It devastates and industrialises the landscape.”*

Now everyone is entitled to their opinion but reading all this I began to wonder just how often Mr Paterson and his friends walk across the Hampshire Downs? I have certainly done a fair old bit of that in my time and, while they are undoubtedly beautiful, they are also scarred by such things as a whacking great motorway and more big, loudly humming, electricity pylons than you could count. Mostly this is so that Mr Paterson and his cronies can get from their nice little cottages to work or the shops and their electric lights and tv’s work when they get home.

Pylons on the Hampshire Downs
Pylons on the Hampshire Downs
The Hockley Link Road on the Hampshire Downs
The Hockley Link Road on the Hampshire Downs
The motorway runni ng through the Twford Down cut From geograph.org.uk by Jim Champion
The motorway runni ng through the Twford Down cut From geograph.org.uk
by Jim Champion

In actual fact the plan is for one farm with fourteen turbines and another with seven, hardly what I would call proliferation and the fields can still be used for crops or animals. No greenhouse gasses are produced, and the only noise is the noise of the wind which would be there anyway. They are more efficient than coal fired or nuclear power stations, producing energy seventy percent of the time. In Swindon just five turbines produce enough energy to power two thousand five hundred homes, I’d hardly call that insignificant. If you want to know more facts and figures about them check out the Hampshire Energy website.

From Wikimedia Commons by Molgreen
From Wikimedia Commons by Molgreen

Sadly I don’t live on the Hampshire Downs with all the beautiful views, as long as you ignore the pylons and roads anyway. Maybe that means I shouldn’t have an opinion but I do. If I didn’t live at the bottom of a big hill I’d happily have a wind turbine in my garden, obviously a small one because I don’t have a very big garden. Fossil fuels are running out, nuclear power is dirty (how exactly do you dispose of a waste product with a half life of millions of years?) and dangerous. Remember Chernobyl, Sallafield and Fukushima? Those were the big ones that made the news but Google it and there’s a list as long as your arm. Homer Simpson is alive and well and working in a power station near you. I quite like having electric lights and somewhere to charge my iPad and a wind farm seems like a pretty good option to me.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Pantona
Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Pantona

Mother Nature is a wondrous thing, I treasure the countryside she has provided. The thing is Mother Nature provides the wind too. Beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder and I realise not everyone likes the look of the turbines. As someone who doesn’t pretend to be an authority, just an amateur who appreciates art, architecture and the beauty around me, I think they’re quite pleasing to the eye. Much more so than a huge power station like Marchwood on the edge of the New Forest or the massive pylons all over the Hampshire Downs. Then again, what do I know?

Are they really so bad? Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Pantona
Are they really so bad? Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Pantona

Maybe when those turbines are built (if they ever are) the protesters will realise the worst case scenario wasn’t so bad after all. When they turn on their tv’s and their lights they might just think that wind power isn’t such a bad thing. If they ever get out of their cars and go for a little walk on the downs, they might look up and think the majestic blades slowly turning above them don’t look that bad after all. Who knows, they might even grow to love them.

*Since I wrote this planning permission has been refused for the wind farms so the grumbly complainers won. It all seems a bit of a shame to me.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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