Is it the wrong answer blowing in the wind?

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
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They say it is an ill wind that blows no good. Whoever ‘they’ are and whatever that means.

Forgive my facetiousness. ‘They’, obviously, are people from a time when the wind was a more glaring mixed blessing.

In physical terms, the wind that rived a hundredweight of straw off your thatched cottage was the same that turned the mill which ground the flour in your daily bread.

For every sail filled at sea an icy draught under your backdoor...

Clearly, of course, this phrase has been hopelessly outdated for most of the 20th century – an era when the wind was (kites and other leisure pursuits such as yachting, hang-gliding, para-gliding – all the many and varied glidings – aside) an unambiguous pain in the neck (literally, in the case of those poor souls, quite possibly apocryphal, decapitated by whirling slates flung at them by gale force fresh air).

Perhaps uniquely, however, this crumb of ancient folk wisdom has not only regained new currency, it might be more true now than ever before.

Today, the wind that shakes a dozen tiles off your roof is one that turns the blades of Britain’s 6,000 turbines, pumping 12 gigawatts of clean electricity into the National Grid annually, approaching 10% of total UK consumption.

Is that meaningful consolation to the householder who wakes the morning after a storm to find rain entering his loft and chunks of Lakeland blue jutting from his prize marrow? Doubtful.

Indeed, if you were to choose this moment to tell said chap that Britain’s ‘dash for wind’ had most likely stuck £20 or so on all our bills the chances are he’d do something rash. Drop him a line, perhaps.

On balance, though, bearing in mind that significant wind damage almost always happens to someone else, the path we have embarked upon is one of wisdom. After all, did not Confucius himself say ‘When the winds of change blow, it is the wise who build windmills and the fools who build windbreaks’?

Words to that effect, possibly the other way about, but I digress.

The main thing to remember is this: The same relentless, morning, noon and night chilly wind which stopped April and much of early May being absolutely scorching was at least doing some good for all of us, all the time, on- and offshore.

Or pushing our utility bills even more out of reach, depending which side of bed you blew out of.