Ten million pounds is quite a sum for a ‘nimby’ campaign. Yet this is what Donald Trump has said that he is willing to spend fighting future wind developments in Scotland. And not just the one that ‘threatens’ his planned golfing resort.
As it is announced that Mr Trump is to be called to a Scottish Parliamentary committee as part of an inquiry into green energy, there may be some who are a little nervous that his threats are being taken with more consideration than is perhaps justified.
Trump claims to be making an investment of £1billion into the Scottish economy through the construction and operation of his resort. For a man reputedly worth $2.9billion, that’s not an insignificant sum.
But is the Scottish parliament in danger of paying his threats a little too much attention? Possibly. Although Mr Trump can find ready allies in the likes of Murdo Fraser and other Tory MSPs who are keen to secure political support from the Scottish anti-wind lobby.
The real danger here is probably not that Mr Trump’s opinions matter more than the next person, but that its indicative of how, on balance, the ‘anti’ wind campaigns continue to be far better organised and far more efficient than those that the pro wind lobby ever seem able to achieve.
Too often, those against wind couch their argument in terms of financial cost to ordinary people already facing fuel poverty, and the technology's 'inefficiency', without ever having to recourse to more sound judgements on future energy security, or the ability to hedge against future price rises in oil and gas.
And given the bias against wind seen almost daily in the media – this just yesterday – the true figures for wind support are swept under the carpet. Something that continues to astound, particularly if the latest YouGov figures (that suggest that 61% of UK consumers support renewable forms of energy), are anything to go by.
Ultimately, if the wind industry is to win over the cynics, then it needs to respond with greater clarity and conviction when it comes to dealing with the rants and ravings of the likes of Donald Trump. A chap that - despite what US television audiences may say - is hardly the European role model that the energy market ever needs.
Moreover, instead of forever fighting a reactive communications campaign, isn't it time to change the conversation and change the game?
Wind energy isn't about eco warriors and the green agenda anymore. Rather, it's about diversifying an existing energy portfolio, increasing existing levels of self sufficiency and creating a greater level of certainty when it comes to meeting future energy needs.
As with any electricity generator currently sitting within the wider energy mix, wind power is no silver bullet. However, with the right level of support and the right infrastructure and governance in place, then it can become a credible part of our future.
As an industry, we've moved a long way in a short space of time. However, as we continue to race ahead, we've got to be careful not to leave the public behind. And effective communication is often the best place to start.
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