SIR – I was amused by an article in the national press about the power industry having to bring back one of our lovely coal-fired power stations into operation at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire.
The reason was that the gas-fired stations could not cope with hot, windless weather for technical reasons and there was no wind to turn the disgracefully unsightly wind farms scarring our beautiful remote countryside and in our coastal waters.
As an ecologist for some 50 years, 30 of which were in the power industry, I was always impressed by the massive engineering and skills that went into building and operating our large power stations and they were always a great attraction to visitors – cathedrals of power, as they were known.
We will regret their loss if we ever decide to close them all permanently. I am still waiting for the freezing cold, windless Christmas morning when the so-called greener system will be unable to cope with all the cooking and heating.
As for the environmental effects of fossil fuels, they were pretty minimal compared with the asset of on-demand electricity.
We gave up the best electricity system in the world for what I believe to be a mixture of wrong science and international politics; probably defence reasons as we needed military bases in Scandinavia which had pressed us to “clean-up” the acid rain problem which, in fact, was non-existent.
The story of the negotiations between the respective governments was told to a group of specialist speakers at the time, by the then chairman of the power industry. He was an internationally renowned scientist and was not impressed by the wrong-headed political shenanigans.
The value of a mix of fossil-fuelled stations was then illustrated by the role that Fawley, an oil-fired power station, played during the miners’ strike of 1984-85. The station, deemed to be too expensive to run normally, was kept running almost continuously for a year, helping keep the country going. Without its contribution things would have been much worse for us all.
One day, perhaps we may have politicians that understand science and technology. But is that just wishful thinking?
Dr Terry Langford,