It is nice to know that the great and the good were out last week looking at Thanet's Off-shore Wind farm and that we have the pleasures of The London Array to come.
What I find fascinating is the development that is now encircling or is about to encircle us. China Gateway and Manston Airport to the South; industrial farming glass-houses and associated warehouses of Thanet Earth to the West and shortly we will see our empty seascape, one of the main attractions for visitors to our beaches, blighted with hundreds of turning turbines glistening in the sun.
Sitting on Fort Hill the other morning with the sun lighting up clearly the wind-mills off Herne Bay (17km away) I wondered if any-one in Thanet has grasped the enormous visual intrusion on our seascapes that these wind farms are about to create? Whether on the northside or even in Broadstairs, that pleasure for visitors, of staring out to sea to the empty horizon, is about to be a thing of the past.
Well of course, its worth it for the jobs, isn't it? What jobs? A look at Vattenfall's web-site shows that they have many employees all over Europe but a distinct lack of British employees; in fact no column is devoted to the UK at all.
Here is what Vattenfall has to say about their project: (Capitals are mine)
The total investment for completing the wind farm is in the order of around £780 million. A proportion of this COULD be spent locally with potential benefits for local suppliers and services.
Local contractors and workers ARE currently being used in support of the development. (Who are they and how many jobs?)
An assembly base is needed during the construction period. Up to 200 workers will be required, some of whom COULD be provided locally.
A local maintenance facility is needed during the 40 year operational life of the wind farm. Up to 20 skilled positions will be required, many of whom COULD be provided locally.
Tourism MAY be boosted. Many visitors have been attracted to both onshore and offshore wind farm developments in the past.
If anyone can confirm that this project is actually creating lots of local employment, I would be very grateful to hear about it. In the meantime, I will think of those foreign chaps in Whitstable who are maintaining Herne Bay's wind-mills and think how more European I need to become.
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