There are two broad definitions of community:
- a geographically-based community
- and a community of interest.
The contentious nature of onshore wind turbines means that the they are often blamed for dividing geographic communities. In the case of our development – Totnes Community Wind Farm – the opposition often seek to drive a wedge between Totnes and the parishes Harberton/ Harbertonford – where the turbines will reside.
If the parishes of Harberton and Harbertonford were independent, the argument would have some justification. However, we are living in an increasingly inter-connected society, and therefore we are reliant on other communities for our high standard of life. In energy terms, we impose the impact of living next to nuclear power stations, pylons, gas turbines, refineries, coal mines onto to other communities to maintain the status quo. Is this a fair imposition? We don’t question it, because it is so embedded as acceptable in our society. Our addiction to the existing system, means that we ignore these inequalities – we forget the current and future victims, that may suffer for us. A conservative estimate puts the number of serious accidents (more than 5 fatalities) in the coal, oil and gas industries as 2592 (1970-2008) within the EU (10 times that in developing countries). All communities are liable for these hidden discrepancies.
Now I’m am not suggesting that the two turbines proposed will totally transform this inequality, but they are a step in right direction.
If we take the second definition and broaden our view of community, from small geographic differences to a more general, community of interest, the discussion becomes very different. It is in the interest of every community to secure a vibrant local economy and produce renewable electricity. As I have explained previously (in my first blog post/ letter) the smaller parishes do not have the resources available for such a substantial development, that produces enough electricity for 2500 homes. So as a joint community of interest we respond to the needs locally in any way we can.
If we widen the geographic boundaries, accept we share common interests, and take into account the current energy system has many less publicised victims, we come to very different conclusions.