After business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced a significant push for renewable and nuclear energy, Grant Shapps sounded a note of caution that wind farms are an “eyesore”. Yes, we need to reduce dependence on Russian gas to hinder Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression.
Of course, we need to reduce dependence on Russian gas de todas formas, because, you know, the world is confronted with the existential threat of climate change. But Shapps thinks wind farms are an eyesore, so perhaps our priorities have been wrong all along.
Extending this perverse logic to the heights of British industry, presumably those factories whose ungainly bulk offers no visual pleasure ought to go the way of the wind: down with the last vestiges of UK manufacturing.
And what of the M6 bypass between Slough and Reading, whose gray form is a scar across the beatific loveliness of the Thames Valley? Let the aesthetic dog wag the industrial tail. The triumph of Brexit! The scourge of cosmopolitanism, look upon Shapps’ work, ye mighty, and despair!
In his hour of darkness, he has obtained words of wisdom, which are lovingly shared on the Sunday morning news. But he lamented not the passage of time, which his wisdom shall not diminish. No, it will rather be diffused across the collective mind of politicking, and find itself regurgitated across Facebook groups, local birdwatching associations, and parish councils.
Hear his wise considerations – the scourge of sustainability, the dismantler of the naive ambition of living on a planet not ruined by climate catastrophe. No thanks, Joe Biden, I’d much rather preserve pastoral purity for the six people living in the Pennines than take necessary and achievable steps to reduce emissions. eat it, TheGuardian.
The private hedges of freedom likewise shall not yield under the Kremlin boot. This is a struggle for freedom which roughly parallels that of the besieged citizens of Mariupol, counsels the earnest Boris Johnson: as the Ukrainians are bombarded by bombs and bullets and shrapnel, so the ordinary, hard-working British people have to endure relentless shelling from the collective forces of the Left.
The Corbynites, crouching inside the Trojan horse of Keir Starmer, insist that the humanitarian concerns of an entire nation have, for this brief moment, aligned with the radical transformation we need for climate justice. This transformation, they further argue, would create jobs in deprived parts of the country, alleviating poverty and reducing regional inequality. Au contraire, we don’t want your radical transformation! It’s a slippery slope that starts with addressing prescient concerns, but climaxes in pools of flame and the mocking of John Redwood.
Where will it all end? First they came for the climate deniers (I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a climate denier). Then they came for the extensive Russian links between the Conservative party and the Kremlin (I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Tory party donation).
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Now, they come for Grant Shapps for merely suggesting that we shouldn’t enact necessary, sensitive and entirely beneficial reforms because wind farms might not look very nice – as if coal mines or gas stations have any great aesthetic value. Ah yes, because Orwell’s portrait of coal miners in The Road to Wigan Pier painted a pastoral scene which Wordsworth or Keats might have eulogized. Upon encountering a lake of coal sludge in the Appalachian mountains, Shapps would presumably breath a sigh of relief, “at least there’s no wind turbines!”.
On a serious note, what makes Grant Shapps’ intervention rather more worrying is that his remit as transport secretary offers immense influence in terms of reducing a significant chunk of UK emissions. If the government doesn’t take far more radical measures to encourage sustainable transport, the result is not just the perpetuation of inactive, isolated lifestyles, but the further embedding of modes of living which are highly carbon intensive.
In fact, sustainable transport is not just desirable because of what it helps to avert (the world burning) it’s desirable for precisely the reason that Shapps deployed against wind farms: if you look at any form of cycling or pedestrianized infrastructure, it creates beautiful, clean, community-oriented, urban spaces.
The biggest “eyesore” in our cities is road infrastructure, and indeed the behemoth carparks that are built to sustain it. The thought leaders of the Conservative Right once again shoot at an open goal – without realizing they’ve scored at the wrong end of the pitch.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.