I wonder what it is that draws us to sunsets? As I went to a nearby beach to watch the sun drop into the Irish Sea once more, there were as ever, a collection of cars lined up facing out toward the water. Their occupants were of all ages, some couples, some groups, some alone, but all gathered to watch the spectacle that is an assured crowd pleaser.

Some years ago, when my finances were tighter, friends and I used to go and watch the sunset several times a week. It was the cheapest form of entertainment for us all, and we never grew tired of it. We would goof around writing our names in the sand or throwing stones into the waves counting how many times we could make them hop on the surface before they sank. And sometimes we would just sit on the sand or the wave breakers and watch the sun disappear from view and listening to the waves without saying a word to one another.

On the horizon tonight there were some new additions. Wind turbines under construction as part of the new Burbo offshore wind farm. When complete there will be 25 such turbines just outside the mouth of the River Mersey on the Burbo Flats four and a half miles off New Brighton in the Liverpool Bay.

Some people might feel that such a wind farm would spoil an otherwise undisturbed scene, but I actually think these wind turbines could add something to the experience of watching a sunset.

To me they are symbols of optimistic forward thinking representing a more responsible way of living. Upon it’s completion the Burbo offshore wind farm will provide clean renewable energy for somewhere in the region of 75,000 homes.

It won’t be the only wind farm you can see from the beaches where I live though. Just off the North Wales coast is the North Hoyle offshore wind farm. Built in 2003 it was the UK’s first major offshore wind farm. On clear days it’s visible from beaches around the Wirral Peninsula, including New Brighton. There are six wind turbines at the Royal Seaforth Dock, Liverpool, and just a few miles north, but out of site from the beaches where I live, is the Barrow offshore wind farm.

The new Burbo offshore wind farm will be in commission for 20 years at which point its status will be reviewed. If decommissioned the turbines can be disassembled and removed in a relatively short amount of time, returning the coastal horizon to its state. It’s hard to imagine a coal, oil, or nuclear power station being able to make that same claim.

I can’t imagine that the windmills will detract from my enjoyment of any future sunsets. If anything they might offer new photographic challenges. But really, when it comes down to it as good as any photograph of a sunset might be, there really is only one way to best enjoy them, and that’s to actually be there. I plan to do more of that.

Burbo offshore wind farm
North Hoyle wind farm (off North Wales coast)
Embrace Wind Energy
Yes 2 Wind
[Movie] North Hoyle wind farm
[Movie] Sunset (a very short movie I made)