Monday, 5 November 2012

The European Platform Against Horses, Rice and maybe some Windfarms

In response to my previous examination of the prevalence of anti-wind groups across the world, keen-eyed 'KM' pointed out the following, regarding the listing I used from Wind Watch:

" "554 signatory organisations from 24 European countries" - 454 not from UK, 17 from Netherlands.

Wind Watch is an English-language site, so it is not surprising that its "allies" are predominately English-speaking."

The European Platform Against Windfarms claims to be a list of 554 signatories from 24 different European countries. This list seems to be used as an indication that anti-wind sentiment, along with serious health issues, are prevalent and significant in European countries. 

The registration page lists eight separate criteria required to join EPAW. However, the actual listing does not show how verification was done on the groups. Instead, the vast majority of 'organisations' listed are email addresses. Of the websites listed, quite a few are dead links, or links to nature conservation groups, and in some cases, hilariously irrelevant websites.

I went through and analysed their listing, using the HTML source code to export the list into Excel, for the bigger countries (UK, Germany, France). The results are below:

Click to enlarge
The 'validity' is the percentage of signatories that had valid and relevant URLs listed for their entry. 

France serves as a great case study. Of the 201 signatories listed for France  only 54 included links to websites. Of the 54 URLs listed, there were seven dead links, a link to a wiki page, a link to a website about the ocean (they provide 'rentals, watersports, scuba diving, windsurf, kite, sailing, snorkeling, brokers, marinas, provisoning, shipchandlers, schools, boatyards  etc..'), and a website about horses (an organisation that seemingly once opposed a nearby wind development):

Not your typical anti-wind lobby group

One website showed up twice, here with one URL, and here again with a slightly different URL. Here they are, side by side:

Seeing double
And, this French anti-wind website is listed three separate times, under three different names. 

The issue isn't limited to France. Spain has an email address listed for a signatory as ''. A quick Google search shows that the email address belongs to Mark Duchamp - CEO and co-founder of EPAW. 

It's hard to ascertain the nature of 'Iberica 2000', but here's an article on the website in which Duchamp outlines his anti-wind views and his climate skepticism. 

A website listed on the UK's page is 'Turbine Torture', apparently the headquarters of the 'Bolam and Area Action Group'. I thought that would be done deal, but click on the link and you're taken to a website that lists tutorials on Microsoft Powerpoint, with a hyperlink towards the bottom of the page inexplicably linking to an anti-wind lobby group. 

Similarly, the 'Seamer and Hilton Windfarm Action Group' website gives you some startling facts on 'THE IMPORTANCE OF MOBILES', 'ANIMAL LOVE' and 'SOME WONDERFUL WAYS TO SPEND YOUR WEEKEND'. 

My personal favourite comes from Italy, for an organisation listed as 'Comitato Monte dei Cucchi'. Click the link, and you're taken to a website that is in Japanese:

Convert the page into English, and you are given a brilliant overview of the best ways of 'How to cook rice basic', including:

-  "If left intact dust and rice bran old adhering to the vessel, it would cause the insect occurs in rice"

- "Method may save is bad, I fell even taste good rice much, insects will occur in the worst case."

- "First of all, I will stick to your water!"

You delicious rice. Rice is delicious smart way.

Poor translations aside, these fairly unsurprising tactics are great examples of how 'Astroturfing' works. Astroturfing occurs when an organisation attempts to simulate the appearance of a 'grassroots' movement, through a variety of techniques. In this case, the EPAW is attempting to portray a significant European uprising against wind farms.

Yet, out of the 556 signatories listed, only 222 can be verified using the information on the website. For every valid, confirmed entry, there were 2.5 unverifiable (and thus, invalid) entries. 

Importantly, the vast majority of valid anti-wind websites are concerned with visual amenity. Only a few of them make mention of health concerns. The EPAW does not provide evidence that health complaints are prevalent in Europe. 

Considering EPAW's fondness for rice, horses and powerpoint, I'm not sure it can even be taken as a rigorous and dependable listing of anti-wind lobby groups. 

The United Kingdom has the highest number of valid URLS (61), and the highest validity score for countries where number of signatories was greater than 15. This is unsurprising, given the nature of anti-wind lobbying - we can see from these data that it is more prevalent in countries where English is the primary language.

I'll update the language-analysis using EPAW's valid entries, and post it up here soon. 


  1. I'm a bit worried about the intersection of "animal love" and "some wonderful ways to spend your weekend".

    Great detective work Ketan, I think Interpol might be interested in your uncovering the seamy side of anti-wind propagandists and their penchant for animal bestiality! Hey, maybe their anti-wind opposition is simply a cover for less noble activities?

  2. Excellent work Ketan...this is the sort of investigation that the media around the world needs to do to verify what information they pass along and feed to their vulnerable and gullible viewers and readers. They'd be doing a great service ( and their jobs ) by weeding out most of the mis-information and begin reporting on facts instead.