6th May 2014
Wind Farms Causing needless anxiety The Times article
The Times - Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/article4081666.ece
‘Too many’ plans for wind farms causing needless anxiety
The projects that are said to be surplus to requirements include about 3,000 onshore wind turbines
The projects that are said to be surplus to requirements include about 3,000 onshore wind turbines Getty Images
Ben Webster Environment Editor
Published at 12:01AM, May 6 2014
A thousand applications for renewable energy projects, including wind and solar farms, may be causing needless anxiety for homeowners because enough have already been granted planning permission to meet Britain’s 2020 green targets, a study has found.
The projects that are said to be surplus to requirements include about 3,000 onshore wind turbines, 3,000 offshore ones and 100 solar farms of five acres or more. A total of 16 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity has already been built, producing enough electricity to supply 11 million homes.
Another 19GW is either under construction or has been granted permission and is awaiting construction.
Once built, these projects will produce at least 30 per cent of total electricity, which is the contribution required from the power sector to meet Britain’s legally binding target set by the European Union. Under the targets the UK is required to produce 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The Renewable Energy Foundation, which analysed figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), found that another 18GW of projects was in the planning system awaiting consent. If these were all built, Britain would produce almost 50 per cent more renewable electricity than is required under the EU directive.
The foundation said that the projects that already had planning permission were likely to consume the government’s entire budget for renewable energy subsidies, which is rising to £7.6 billion a year by 2020. The body, which opposes subsidies for renewable energy, accused the department of helping to create a glut of applications for projects that were not needed to meet green targets but which would nevertheless remain in the planning system, causing uncertainty and distress for thousands of nearby homeowners.
John Constable, the foundation’s director, said: “The UK planning system is clogged with nearly a thousand applications for renewable electricity capacity that is surplus to requirements and cannot in any case be built without breaching the Treasury’s spending limits. These needless speculative applications are not only very expensive for local authorities to process, but will in many cases be causing widespread planning blight.”
The Conservatives pledged last month to ban subsidies for proposed onshore wind farms that had not received planning permission. The Liberal Democrats said it was wrong to place a cap on one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy.
The DECC did not respond directly to the foundation’s claims.
• The DECC has been accused of burying record public support for onshore wind farms because it contradicts a pledge to end subsidies for new turbines.
Seventy per cent of people said they supported onshore turbines, according to a survey of 2,000 people commissioned by the DECC. However, the report on the findings focused on an increase in support for nuclear power.
Renewable UK said: “We would have expected the DECC to trumpet the fact that developing onshore wind is overwhelmingly popular, rather than failing to include it in its summary.”