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Matt Ridley: Green zealots are threatening real conservation

November 7, 2022

By Paul Homewood



Obsession with climate change is now actively harming the environment
Environmentalists are increasingly finding themselves at odds with conservationists. Last week the head of the National Grid said the planning process will need to change because net zero requires the building of many new lines of pylons across the country. People in East Anglia are objecting to 110 miles of pylons scarring rural landscapes and ancient woodland to connect North Sea wind farms to the grid.
“We had to destroy the village to save it,” a probably apocryphal American general said in Vietnam. It is now clear that we are destroying the planet to save it from climate change. Many of the policies being pursued in the service of decarbonisation are not just economically damaging, but ecologically harmful too.
Wind farms kill hundreds of birds every year; so do cats, but these are rare species like golden eagles on land and red-throated divers offshore. They also kill bats by the thousand. If you or I killed an eagle or a bat we would go to jail. They spoil landscapes and require vast quantities of steel, concrete and rare earth metals, the mining of which is a source of pollution.
Then there’s the burning of wood by Drax power station in Yorkshire to generate electricity. Not only does wood produce more emissions than coal per unit of energy, this reverses a centuries-long trend of moving away from stealing the lunch of beetles and woodpeckers for our energy needs (nothing eats coal or gas). Much of Drax’s wood is imported from North Carolina because we don’t grow nearly enough timber in Britain. There, locals are horrified by the devastation to their woods. Yet it’s subsidised by you.
All over Wales, Scotland and northern England biodiversity-rich hills are disappearing under ecologically sterile monocultures of alien Sitka spruce thanks to government incentives to plant more trees to soak up carbon dioxide. Not only do grasslands and blanket bogs on moorland soak up CO2 almost as well, and sometimes better, they also hold back flood water and support rare birds like curlews.
In the south more and more fields are covered in futile solar “farms”, generating trickles of power when least needed – mostly on June afternoons. Sheep graze on the grass that grows under them, say their fans. Er, grass needs sunlight: the panels cut down the productivity of the land by around 90 per cent. They also displace food crops to other land elsewhere at the expense of natural habitats.
Biofuels, grown instead of food, put upward pressure on food prices and on the amount of land we need to grow food, while saving little or no emissions. On my local river, a new hydro plant generates a tiny quantity of power but threatens the migration of salmon smolts. The refusal to incinerate trash has led to it being fly-tipped in the countryside, or shipped to Asia for “recycling”, where it gets dumped in rivers or the sea. And don’t forget the diesel scandal, a worsening of urban air pollution as a direct result of a policy to reduce CO2 emissions by subsidising diesel cars.
Money available to save the red squirrel, the white clawed crayfish, or the water vole, is negligible; it all goes on decarbonisation. I once asked an ecological consultant why Natural England appeared to have lost interest in improving plant biodiversity on moorland. “You don’t understand,” she replied: “Carbon emissions are the only thing that count now.”
Climate change has become a convenient excuse for doing nothing about real conservation problem.
Where’s the outrage from environmentalists about the rape of the planet by the lucrative crony capitalists in the renewable industry? Silence. Real conservation can go hang, so long as we are seen to fight climate change.

  1. In The Real World permalink
    November 7, 2022 12:30 pm

    The whole Global Warming scam is nothing to do with conservation .
    It is all about destroying Western economies to bring about about a ONE WORLD SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT .
    So all of the CO2 propaganda , the rush for ridiculous expensive renewable energy , the lies about weather events and sea level rises , are just about destroying our civilisation . And all of the Green Loonies are just useful idiots .

  2. Tim Spence permalink
    November 7, 2022 12:32 pm

    Mr Ridley, It was never about the climate.

  3. It doesn't add up... permalink
    November 7, 2022 12:34 pm

    Never mind. At least in England you are protected from new wind farms for now.

    • November 7, 2022 1:58 pm

      How long before another u-turn?

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        November 7, 2022 7:03 pm

        U-turn?? The man will have performed a bosun’s knot before its all over. The WEF have got their man. WE’reF*d

  4. David permalink
    November 7, 2022 12:39 pm

    Couldn’t agree more ! I’ve lived by and played on the sea in southern England for over 70 years and seen no rising sea levels . My home is within 600m of and slightly below spring high tides , I’d definitely notice !
    Wondering, what you make of this latest piece of catastrophising from the National Oceanography Centre

  5. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 7, 2022 12:48 pm

    “People in East Anglia are objecting to 110 miles of pylons scarring rural landscapes and ancient woodland to connect North Sea wind farms to the grid. ”

    Judging by the cost of Beauly-Denny at £4 million a mile and inflation those 110 miles of pylons will cost at least £600 million.

    Matt Ridley has highlighted most of the issues with all the Green B0ll0cks

  6. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 7, 2022 1:21 pm

    Particularly ironic because money is currently being spent to remove existing pylons for the sake of the view.
    The climate scam is full of crazy contradictions, we’re told to plant trees whilst green schemes are chopping them down for wood pellets, bio fuel plantations, to make room for windmills, all over the world at a crazy rate.

    • November 7, 2022 5:41 pm

      And forest fires are on the increase, or so we’re told. More fuel available perhaps?

  7. Gerry, England permalink
    November 7, 2022 1:32 pm

    Greenpiss, the Woke Wanker Fund etc are all full of ex-CND who were out a job when the Soviet Union collapsed. So they moved into the former environmental groups and diverted them from their founded cause – hence the only scientific founding member of Greenpiss left.

    • November 7, 2022 2:40 pm


      The trouble is they carried their hatred of nuclear with them, with their refusal to countenance nuclear power stations.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        November 7, 2022 2:45 pm

        Not just their hatred of nuclear, their hatred of Western capitalist civilisation too.

  8. November 7, 2022 2:09 pm

    “Destroying the village to save it” is not apocryphal. The documentary series ‘The Vietnam War’, based on the book of the same name by Geoffrey Ward & Ken Burns shows that exchange between a reporter and a US Officer.
    All the eco loons are doing is destroying the landscape to save the incomes of those companies stealing from the public purse and consumers in pursuit of the ‘big lie’ about climate change.

  9. November 7, 2022 2:39 pm

    Don’t forget the insects. Many thousands of Tonnes of which are killed every year by the giant insect choppers as insects often fly within the heights described by the arcs of the blades. Still, who needs insects?

    • Stephen Bazlinton permalink
      November 7, 2022 5:41 pm

      We need the insects to replace the meat we are not allowed to eat!

  10. Harry Davidson permalink
    November 7, 2022 3:43 pm

    One of the most disgraceful things was cutting down ancient virgin forest, large areas of Rienhardswald in Hesse, to make way for … windmills. How ‘environmentalists’, for it was they, can enthuse about I do not understand.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      November 7, 2022 5:45 pm

      And now they’re chopping down the windmills to make way for huge open-cast lignite mines.
      Well, I suppose that’s progress…

  11. John Hultquist permalink
    November 7, 2022 5:07 pm

    “Today there are more than 90,000 electricity pylons across Britain, covering 4,300 route miles (7,000 kilometres).” [NG]

    A dozen or so small wind turbines, say 3 m across, could be fitted near the top of each tower, with solar panels closer to the ground.
    Can I get a grant to study this?

  12. M Fraser permalink
    November 7, 2022 6:11 pm

    ‘Britain opens the door to climate reparations’, DT today!
    We are now officially stark raving mad!

  13. November 7, 2022 6:48 pm

    But bear in mind that although there are still no new wind farms coming forward in England, it is a different picture here in Scotland. We have three operating (for some considerable time) and a constant pressure for more just in their small area around our community. Currently we face four full scale applications in our locality. all s36 applications bar one (in other words schemes that meet the definition set in 1989 of “power stations”). So turbines up to 200m high, visible for miles, and all with the presumption of favourable treatment under Scottish Planning Policy.
    this is repeated right across the Scottish Borders, and also in Dumfries and Galloway, where the council is so overwhelmed they have stopped even engaging on many applications.
    The environmental effects are enormous, but of course the coalition agreement between the SNP and Greens contains a proviso for a huge increase in onshore turbines by 2030. Nothing to do with the huge increases offshore.
    The Greens seem unable to comprehend all turbines have huge effects on the environment.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      November 8, 2022 12:33 pm

      Furthermore most of the power generated when they are running will probably be going to England. Have a study of this map (you can play with the scale) and notice how all those wind farms desperately try to connect to the high voltage transmission grid to head south.
      p.s. My honeymoon was in a cottage on the Banks of the Annan near Hoddom Mains (I think it was called) – lovely place before the wind turbines and I never noticed Chapelcross NPP.

  14. M Fraser permalink
    November 7, 2022 8:05 pm

    I’m surprised all the manufacturers of electrical (not battery) goods are not up in arms or at least very worried by this nonsense.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      November 7, 2022 9:39 pm

      Oh dear…how sad…never mind!

    • dfhunter permalink
      November 8, 2022 1:30 am

      from your link –
      “The company, which is headquartered in London, was hailed as a British success story after achieving an eye-watering $15billion (£13m) valuation.”

      then – “But Arrival has since run into production difficulties, prompting a colossal fall in its share price to make the company now worth just $444m (£388m).

      The numbers seem odd, (well I could make the same cut/paste mistake if only I got payed for it)

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        November 8, 2022 10:38 am

        You can bet that when it was ‘valued’ at $15B the Directors etc managed to realise a lot of that for their own benefit before it all caught up with reality.

  15. Roger Alsop permalink
    November 8, 2022 7:27 am

    A truly sensible and well-informed man.

  16. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 8, 2022 9:23 am

    I like Matt Ridley but he is hopelessly naive about science in general and the Green movement. Unless science is constantly challenged and checked, it becomes corrupt, as does every human institution. And most climate change activists are simply far Left extremists.

  17. Bloke down the pub permalink
    November 8, 2022 10:38 am

    Also from the Telegraph, here via msn, is this article about the relative CO2 outputs from the UK and China.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 8, 2022 3:39 pm

      From that link: It’s beginning to show that some people are purposely linking CO2 with pollution – knowing full well that many people would support pollution reduction measures but not NZ. I suspect that future laws about NZ will be framed along the lines of ‘pollution’ and get passed as a result. And that’s because MP’s are thick enough to do so.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        November 8, 2022 4:13 pm

        “And that’s because MP’s are thick enough to do so.”
        Or bent enough…

      • November 8, 2022 4:20 pm

        Yes, you cannot believe that the politicians’ behaviour is just down to stupidity or ignorance.

  18. November 8, 2022 11:22 pm

    Greens are not Green
    – Many are Marxists
    – Others are capitalist tricksters
    – Most greens oppose nuclear power
    – Typically oppose high temperature incinerators, even though that is best treatment for waste plastic

  19. John C permalink
    November 9, 2022 4:26 am

    No mention of the doubling of transmission losses to 6% documented in National Grids most recent annual report which they attribute to connecting remote renewable generation sources to the network. Given the contribution of renewable generation to currently we are potentially looking at going from <3% to anything like 12% transmission losses. Assuming the politically mandated phasing out of fossil fuels for transport and heating is achieved, a 3-4 fold increase electricity’s share of total energy consumption likely to result in transmission losses equivalent to the combined current electrical consumption of Greater London and the West Midlands. This transition, of course, would only be feasible with an ability to store vast amounts of energy for which there is no proven solution (excluding hydrocarbons) at anything approaching the scale required almost irrespective of cost and disregarding round trip losses. I shudder to think of the real costs to the Uk population vs those modelled by CCC or BEIS ideologically wedded to net zero and supra-national political climate change orthodoxy. Raw materials, processed commodities, finished goods, transportation and energy in our global economy are largely tied to US$ benchmark prices which are all significantly higher post COVID. On-going zero COVID measures in China and global supply chains showing no sign of recovering either cost efficiency or reliability previously taken for granted are severely depressing workforce and infrastructure productivity – all contributing factors to the inflationary pressure feeding in before factoring the 20% devaluation of both £ and € vs $. The scale of investment required will be much higher than the figures used until very recently and borrowing costs for the state or industry are no longer effectively zero

  20. Realist permalink
    November 12, 2022 12:06 pm

    What subsidies? They are imaginary. All petrol and diesel cars have been hammered with taxes and of course zero subsidies since time immemorial.
    >>subsidising diesel cars

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