It is felt by many that National Parks in the 21st century should be exemplars of sustainable development and living and should support innovative solutions to public transport, low carbon lifestyles and the generation of renewable energy.
In some respects Dartmoor would seem ideally suited to renewable energy. Although not noted for its abundant sunshine, high rainfall, an abundance of small rivers, an elevated landscape and westerly winds are all promising resources. Hydro schemes are widespread and have been in use since the early part of the last century. Indeed, the largest hydro generation plant in the South West is located near Mary Tavy.
But some methods of harnessing renewable energy have a significant and detrimental effect on the landscape. Modern wind turbines and their associated infrastructure are built to a scale that dwarfs all other aspects of the landscape and these structures have no place on the open moor and in the surrounding countryside that forms the setting of Dartmoor. In recent years the DPA has been involved in opposing proposals to establish commercial wind farms on the periphery of the National Park.
There is a pressing need to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources. But this needs to be done without damaging our environment or trashing our beautiful countryside. Onshore wind generation, together with its associated infrastructure, carries a substantial tariff in damaging the rural environment without the ability to provide consistent baseload power to the grid.
Although we will continue to oppose commercial wind farm proposals, we do not object to micro generation facilities provided by small turbines that can be sensitively sited within the landscape.
For an excellent and dispassionate assessment of the UK energy requirements and ways in which they may be met in future read Professor David McKay’s views on the Without the Hot Air website.