Renew On Line (UK) 52

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 152 Nov-Dec 2004

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. £50m for wave and tidal

2. Renewables over 5%

3. North Sea -CO2 sink?

4. Biofuels push

5. Solar Worries

6. Deep sea wind

7. The Wind debate : New anti-wind lobby

8. Policy Developments  New Planning Guide

9. Regional Developments: NW, NE, Scotland

10. World Developments : US, China, EU

11. Nuclear News: Nuclear  Economics

7.The Wind debate

New  anti-wind lobby

The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), launched in July, has called for an immediate cross-party review of UK energy policy, arguing that present policies, and in particular the heavy emphasis on wind, needed changing. 

REF’s chair, TV personality Noel Edmonds, commented ‘Politicians are promoting wind turbines as a green icon, but they are misleading the public into believing the propaganda of the wind industry. The reality is that wind power is too costly and can never meet our energy needs- but it will destroy the countryside.’ 

According to the Guardian (July 15th), REF is backed by ‘anonymous wealthy individuals and hopes to gather the 80 or so groups opposing wind farms around the country’ and has claimed that to reach the 10% renewable energy target would require erecting 39,000 wind turbine across Britain.

REF however says it is pro-renewables; it aims to ‘encourage the development of renewable energy and energy conservation whilst safeguarding the landscapes of the United Kingdom from unsustainable industrialisation. In pursuit of this goal, REF highlights the need for an overall energy policy that is balanced, ecologically sensitive and effective.’ 

But wind is the obviously their main starting point. According to Edmonds “The most respected energy experts agree that as a matter of extreme urgency we must now adopt a new approach to energy conservation and energy production. The industrialisation of our landscapes with Wind Power stations will not prevent the impending energy crisis. Wind Turbines are Weapons of Mass Distraction. The rollout of thousands of these structures is a cynical attempt by the Government to distract the public and the media from the real issue- the UK’s impending energy crisis. The whole country urgently requires an informed debate upon a raft of measures that we need to implement nowAll the experts agree we are almost too late to avoid the blackouts.”

CEO Campbell Dunford added, we face a future dependant upon imported fossil fuel- gas is a fossil fuel- and the grotesque political push for wind turbines is misguided. The grid will not cope, vast additional infrastructure expenditure is needed, the countryside everywhere will be irreversibly damaged, and all for a pittance of power. Yet other viable renewables are given, at best, lip service. We will place the facts in the public domain and support renewables wherever we can.” 

REF says its other key tasks will be initiating and collating specific research, and the creation and maintenance of ‘the most reliable and comprehensive database of research into all forms of renewable energy generation. This information will aid in the final key aim of the organisation: to support small campaigns working to fight inappropriate developments at a local level.’

                                Contact REF on  020 7930 8033

or e-mail or visit

NEF rebuts REF

One newspaper incorrectly called the new Foundation the ‘National Energy Foundation’, which led the long established MK based National Energy Foundation to issue a press statement confirming the NEF’s support for the current development of wind onshore in the UK: “Whilst most of the Foundation's work relates to solar and wood fuel options we recognize that onshore wind is the most cost effective renewable energy technology that can be deployed in the UK today. The vast majority of people in numerous surveys have shown their support for wind energy developments and yet a very vociferous minority seem to grab the headlines and get presented in the media as the majority view. We pride ourselves at the National Energy Foundation on providing impartial, independent and expert advice and would be the first to acknowledge that all forms of energy generation have some environmental impact. However, we have no hesitation in stating that the environmental benefits of wind energy far outweigh these impacts."     

NEF contact:

Parties back wind....

Front bench energy spokesmen from the three main political parties told the British Wind Energy Associations annual conference that there could be no doubt of the importance of renewables in achieving security of UK energy supply and helping to address climate change. The parties also agreed that the Renewables Obligation will be maintained into the future as the delivery mechanism for renewable supply. Speaking at a debate organised by the BWEA, Laurence Robertson, Tory Shadow Minister for Energy, stressed his party’s support for the current legislation on increasing the green share of the energy mix, saying that “under a Conservative government the Renewables Obligation would continue” adding that “Wind will play a significant role in our future energy supplies.”  He went on to argue the case for renewables as part of a ‘balanced energy policy’, suggesting equal billing be given to renewables and nuclear to achieve 40% of supply.

Andrew Stunell, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Energy, said that his party is committed to renewables as a dominant provider in an energy efficient future portfolio. He agreed that political parties should have consensus on the overall direction of energy policy while ensuring a healthy debate on the means to get there.

Energy Minister Stephen Timms reaffirmed Labours position on renewables as outlined in the Energy White Paper and emphasised that the Review of the Obligation scheduled for 2005/6 will not be a fundamental rethink of this critical policy: “We are not in the business of reopening or ripping up the very foundations of the renewables framework that we have put in place”-  and there was a need to maintain confidence in the RO.

..but then Tories re-think

Despite the statement to the BWEA conference (see above) the Conservatives have called for a Government re-think on wind farms. Shadow Environment and Transport Secretary Tim Yeo, one time energy minister, has stressed the need for a ‘national consensus’ before the widespread development of turbine sites gets the go-head.  And he expressed opposition to the current planning proposals which he said enabled ministers to override local objections to renewable energy planning applications.

Standing alongside the environmentalist and broadcaster, Prof. David Bellamy,  at a party-organised event in London in July, he claimed that: “Across Britain, a voice of protest is growing louder. From Wales to my own constituency in Suffolk, local communities are angry at the way that wind farms are being foisted on them by this Labour Government.”  He warned that the problem would worsen as Labour tried to     increase the number of wind farms from 1,000 today to over 6,000 by 2010: “Ministers have bet everything on land based wind farms in the belief that they are the quickest and the cheapest way to meet the Government’s renewable energy target. They are pressing ahead regardless of the opportunities offered by other renewable energy sources; regardless of the cost to the British landscape; and regardless of the impact their policy will have on local people’s lives.” 

He promised to fight plans to enable ministers to override local concerns: “We must find a better way forward. Not just for the sake of our countryside, but because we will only maximise the opportunities offered by renewable energy if we build consensus not conflict.”

And he accused Labour of turning thousands against renewable energy instead of making them more enthusiastic: “Ministers are not trying to persuade- they are seeking to dictate. Their pursuit of a short term target is blinding them to the bigger, long term opportunity.” He said the Conservatives would later this year unveil a more balanced, long term approach- “one that carries the British people with it rather than alienating them. We will look at all types of renewable energy in order to find the best long term solution for Britain.” 

*Television botanist David Bellamy was invited to the event and said a wind turbine “is not green; it destroys the landscapes; it chops up birds; it chops up bats.”

 BWEA  response

With Michael Howard backing these views, and arguing that “Labour is determined to press ahead regardless. Its approach is creating conflict, not consensus,  Marcus Rand, the British Wind Energy Associations' Chief Executive commented that in fact the Conservatives were in danger of breaking the strong political consensus that has been built up over recent years on the urgent need for a major expansion of wind and other forms of renewable energy to help combat climate change and improve the UK’s energy security. Rand added that their apparent desire to curb the expansion of a vibrant new industry at such a critical moment in its development threatens the country’s national renewable and climate targets and jeopardises ‘the long-term investment conditions necessary to ensure that Britain benefits from the thousands of new jobs that an expanding wind industry will bring to Britain. And perhaps most disappointing of all it appears to be a major misreading of public sentiment. The vast majority of the public wants to see the UK embrace wind and other renewables. By standing alongside David Bellamy, an all out opponent of wind energy and well known climate sceptic, Mr Howard runs the danger of listening only to a tiny vocal minority and ignoring the views of the majority of us that want to see wind energy developed as part of an immediate response to the devastating impacts of climate change.’

Rand added that the new Planning Policy Statement on renewable energy (see later) ‘has not been designed to ‘override local concerns about wind farms’: it has been introduced to update existing guidelines which are more than ten years old, to reflect new Government priorities on energy as set out in the Energy White Paper.... Furthermore, PPS22 itself includes the need for planning authorities to encourage greater community involvement in renewable energy projects, and could hardly therefore be said to ignore the views of those communities.

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