Outdoors instructor: “I didn’t see you at my camouflage class last week.” Pupil: “No, but I was there!”
This awful old gag introduces a comment on camouflage, or rather the lack of it where there should be some.
“Why are wind turbines always white?” is a question many people would fervently love answered.
Wind turbines have become a hot topic in the Ribble Valley as landowners and renewable energy companies jump on the green energy bandwagon.
There are many arguments for and against – global warming, cost effectiveness, eysore and so on – but whatever the arguments you simply cannot ignore these thumping great sentinels to progress when they are painted in brilliant white or slightly off-white and stuck into a green-and-brown Lancashire landscape.
To see a prime example, drive over the Nick o’ Pendle through Sabden and over Black Hill, then gaze across the Lancashire Calder Valley.
There, on the slopes of Hameldon, are half a dozen of these turbines, shining white in the weak winter sunshine. They stick out not only like sore thumbs, but as Prince Charles once remarked “like a carbuncle on the face of a dear friend.”
Why are they so white? Do the turbine manufacturers get a job lot of white paint on the cheap, or is it just lack of imagination? Why not make an effort and camouflage them with a clever paint scheme?
You see, camouflage works. Try to spot a frog squatting among dead leaves, or ask any squaddie who smears his face with “camo” to match his combat gear. Watch the war documentaries in which every item of hardware from a water canteen to a battleship is painted in crazy random shapes to break up its outline.
One particularly effective modern example is the enormous John Lewis distribution centre at Milton Keynes. It’s painted in big horizontal stripes, going from dark blue at the bottom to pale blue at the top. It almost blends into the sky behind it despite its vast size, and it’s certainly more unobtrusive than the big white corrugated hangars you see on most industrial estates.
Not only that, white tends to attract insects, which attract birds and bats, which get killed by those whirling turbine blades.
In the USA, some turbines are painted to match wheat fields, and in Germany some turbines are painted dark green to blend into the forest.
Let’s try that here. Perhaps the objectors would then find turbines less objectionable.