Turbines: now in a new guise
PUBLISHED: 13:06 07 September 2007 | UPDATED: 23:03 28 May 2010
Wind turbines in the fens have long been a major cause for debate. They have stirred up all kinds of controversy. They are ugly and spoil the open Fen landscape. There are too many of them. They are noisy. They distract drivers. They affect television rec
Wind turbines in the fens have long been a major cause for debate.
They have stirred up all kinds of controversy. They are ugly and spoil the open Fen landscape. There are too many of them. They are noisy. They distract drivers. They affect television reception. They are inefficient and exist only because of generous Government subsidies.
Some objectors have claimed that any suggestion that these latter-day windmills create power without damaging the ozone layer is total nonsense because the high level of environmentally harmful emissions caused by their creation, transport and erection is more than the inefficient machines can ever hope to save.
Your view on turbines will depend on your politics and green credentials - maybe even scientific knowledge.
A more important consideration could well be where you live. They might seem far more environmentally effective near someone else's home.
However, the turbines were cast in an entirely new light this week - a tourist attraction.
A major tourism feature in our sister newspaper, the Eastern Daily Press, has listed the seven wonders of Norfolk. And coming in at number seven are the wind turbines of the Fens.
I know most of them are not in Norfolk, but they are only just over the border and the feature lists them as a major attraction to Norfolk visitors alongside Cromer Pier, Norwich Cathedral, the Broads, Blickling Hall, Norfolk's Seahenge and the Nelson memorial at Gt Yarmouth.
The article, published earlier this week, recalls the early 17th century when the Earl of Bedford amassed a group of businessmen who brought in Dutchman Cornelius Vermuyden to drain the Fens. But Vermuyden's drainage system did not work adequately until pumps moved water from one drain to another. The power for these pumps came initially from windmills.
The drainage channels are still there, as are the windmills - but in an entirely different guise.
Now their purpose is to generate power, and the giant turbine beside the A47 at Swaffham is described as beautiful - "the king" of the area's wind turbines.
With tourism a growing Fen money-maker, our turbines will now take on a new significance.
And their value to the local economy as a must-see for non-Fenlanders will be factored into all arguments as the windmill battle continues to rage.