Trump's £10 million to fund anti-wind campaigners
Any lingering doubts about the influence of big business on public policy appear to have been blown away as billionaire US businessman Donald Trump offers a £10 million pound fighting fund to anti-wind campaigners.
Trump, angered by plans to built 11 off-shore turbines off the Aberdeenshire coast, which he says will "spoil the view" from his £750 million golf resort. Despite a letter to Alex Salmond accusing him of "being hell bent on destroying Scotland's coast line" and calling the plans "disastrous and environmentally irresponsible", Trump's ire is more a case of "Super Nimby" than dedicated environmentalist.
The golf course is being built on a site of special interest in the teeth of objections from local environmental campaigners and national organisations like the RSPB and the Ramblers Association. Work has been suspended since last summer - "because of the economic downturn" - but the halt to work is now being blamed on the wind farm plans.
The huge cash injection for anti-windfarm lobbyists is a real cause for concern - there's a rising tide of media hostility to wind, much of it fuelled by nimbyism. A recent Farmers Weekly internet poll on the question "do you believe windfarms are a threat to the British countryside" showed 1269 agreeing and only 189 opposing the proposition - almost 90% in favour. That compares to a YouGov survey late last year over a wider more balanced sample group showing 60% support for wind farm investment.
The worrying thing about the Farmers Weekly self selecting survey is that it's readership tends to belong to a rural community with disproportionate influence in the corridors of power - and this has been reflected by a strong anti-wind farm tendency among right wing politicians and media.
There are real concerns that an increasingly hostile political climate will hit the UK's position among global leaders in the wind sector. According to PEW's annual report on renewable investments, "winners and losers section" "The United Kingdom experienced the largest decline among the G-20, falling from fifth to 13th... (globally) ...uncertainty surrounding clean energy policies in these countries is causing investors to look elsewhere for opportunities."