With the United Kingdom committed to producing 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020, there seems to be an acceptance within the general public that sustainability has become a key issue in everyday life. But with around 50% of planning applications for new wind farms rejected in 2010, is the country being realistic in pursuit of its ambitious target?
When new onshore turbines are proposed, local residents rarely consider the environmental advantage, instead often opposing them based on visual impact on the surrounding habitat. Yet, there are rarely the same concerns when it comes to the hundreds of electricity pylons spanning the countryside.
Why are there less objections when it comes to electricity pylons? Is it a matter of scale? Do people find pylons more visually appealing? Have they just come to accept their appearance over time? Perhaps it is to do with our own attitude and perception. The impact of electricity pylons is instant, with electricity immediately available at the flick of a switch.When in comes to wind turbines, people are still more concerned about what their local environment looks like now, rather than potential changes over 30 years.
Currently, wind turbines have a branding image. Their appearance, in often picturesque landscapes, is too alien for some particularly vocal people and this opposition is snowballing. So how can we change this? Perhaps electricity pylons have shown the way. The national grid recently staged a competition to design the pylon of the future, generating a variety of interesting ideas and a great deal of public interest.
Should we need to go back to the drawing board, inviting architects and engineers to design a new turbine that is as sustainable as possible, yet an aesthetically coveted object? This could be sold to the public as a chance to design the next British landmark, something as iconic as the red telephone box or a London bus. Is it simply a matter of waiting for acceptance, or is it possible to make wind turbines sexy?
Credits: Images and documents linked to source.