Wind Farm on the Serra de São Mamede

The serra has been shrouded in grey mist for most of this year but when it lifts there is a large red and white crane on the ridge for all to see. They are mounting a wind farm. These have been especially controversial in the UK and, so far, the National Parks (like the windy Peak District and Lake District) have been spared from the white spikes of modern-day windmills. In Portugal the Parques Naturais are afforded much less protection (you only need to see the construction going on in the Costa Vicentina or Sintra – Cascais to see how little a Parque Natural means when there is short-term money to be made). But when it comes to renewable energy Portugal is leading the field. The country has never had much in the way of natural recources: no coal, no oil or natural gas. This is one of the reasons why the industrial revolution bypassed Portugal and the country remained an agrarian economy until relatively recently. It was the dictator Salazar who I recall said in a rare moment of jest that if Portugal could export rock it would be the wealthiest country in the world.  Recent governments have set ambitions targets for the amount of renewable energy they want to generate, hence the continued dam building for hydro-electric and the outcrop of wind farms on almost every ridge. It leaves me in two minds. I admire Portugal’s targets for renewable energy (70% of the country’s energy is currently from renewable sources) but it saddens me that some beautiful landscapes are being permanentely scarred, not least the Pico de São Mamede the highest point (and one of the windiest) in southern Portugal. Perhaps this makes me an archetypal NIMBY (Not In My Backyard). Despite all the acronyms in use here in Portugal I don’t think there is a translation for that in Portuguese as yet!