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Peter Chapman: Farming needs to be at forefront of renewables

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I have just read a report which says December has been the wettest month in Scotland on record, with on average more than 279mm (11in) of rain having fallen.

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I must say that although we have had most of the fierce winds, we have missed a lot of the rain. We are always thankful for the Grampian mountains blocking a lot of the rain as it moves in from the west. The report also has quotes from Friends of the Earth and WWF stating this is a result of climate change and we should expect more of this in the future. I am no climate expert but as we have come off one of the coldest springs on record and had a couple of fairly snowy winters I do not think one wild December can point to future weather trends like this.

 

However, we do seem to be getting more extremes, whether it be drought, cold and snow or very heavy rainfall leading to flooding. This has led to what some see as a headlong charge into renewables by our Governments to help stem the reliance on fossil fuels which is causing climate change.


I am obviously involved in this industry through our wind turbines and I can say it has been the best diversification we could have opted for, and has really taken the pressure off our business.

Renewables revolution

Farming needs to be at the forefront of this renewables revolution whether it be through wind, hydro, solar or anaerobic digestion. We should not be vilified for taking advantage of the Feed-in Tariff or Renewable Heat Incentive schemes put in place by the Government to encourage investment which can be substantial.

 

Planning needs to be sensitive to local needs but NIMBYs need to realise although renewables are not the answer to our future energy needs, they have a huge part to play in the overall mix. There are often sensational headlines in papers when there is not enough wind to power turbines to boil a kettle. We do not see the same headlines when renewables can potentially power the whole country such as this month I suspect.

 

Our turbines produced 58 per cent of their maximum capacity in December and I am sure many in the west would be better than this. I would urge farmers to grasp this opportunity to diversify their business before the incentives disappear, and not be put off by individuals who have an idyllic, misguided view of the future.

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