A perfect opportunity arose yesterday - which was a cold, still, clear-sky afternoon, with a great sunset coming on - to have a really good, close-up look at one of those dreaded wind turbines that seem to stir up so much emotion in country areas.
It was freshly contructed, and they hadn't yet erected a perimeter fence to keep away saboteurs and the curious. It was a temporary window of easy access. There were merely little notices stuck into the surrounding gravel, saying 'Keep orf!'. But so unnoticeable that I walked straight by them, and actually climbed the steps up the side to reach the inspection doorway. The friend with me, a much more law-abiding person, did not copy me at all. Fortunately, the police did not turn up with sirens and flashing lights, to accompany me to the station.
It was like a huge metal flower. The tall stem remided me of a mighty sequoia tree. It hummed from within. You imagined raw power flashing down that stem, into the ground, and then up the road to join the National Grid. And there was I just inches away from all those megavolts!
There was a notice not to touch, as if the hull might still be hot from its landing on planet Earth.
What about the noise of the rotor blades? I can tell you that, turning briskly in the breeze, they made only a gentle swishing noise. It was a soothing sound, and I can't see how anyone could object to it. I mean, nobody objects if it's open day at the local restored windmill, and they let the sails go round. Whoosh, whoosh, rumble, rumble. And this tall, graceful thing has a much more vital role. And it's so nice to look at. In fact I can hardly think of a more beautiful piece of industrial kit. It really does call to mind a giant seagull. Here are some pix. Judge for yourself:
Isn't this pleasing to the eye? Perhaps in the way that a Spitfire or a sleek, water-cleaving submarine can both be seen as machines to admire? And all this one does is produce electricity, very cleanly.
I even thought it added something to the view. I remember, when in Scotland in 2010, seeing a cluster of wind turbines on a high hill off the A96 in Aberdeenshire: what a majestic sight. I can see that a hundred of these things, massed together, might be intimidating. But surely still much more attractive than a dirty, sinister coal-fired, or nuclear, power station. And it's even better than hydro power: you don't have to flood lush valleys forever, and drown villages. Plus, of course, you can always dismantle a wind turbine if it becomes unnecessary or unwanted. You can't do that so easily with your average old-school power generation plant, or a dam.
What about one in my back yard, then? well, if it were no closer than three hundred yards away, so that you could hardly hear it, then fine.
And where was the turbine in my pictures? On the hill just above Glyndebourne, where they do the opera.