Chris Huhne wants a major expansion of onshore wind farm development to meet green targets
Sunday January 22,2012
By Kirsty Buchanan
A NEW cross-party campaign group is to be set up in Westminster to demand the Government drops its support for thousands more wind farms.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne wants a major expansion of onshore wind farm development to help Britain meet green targets.
Backbench MPs from all parties will brand heavily subsidised onshore wind farms inefficient, expensive and a major blight on the landscape.
They will urge Ministers to re-think a policy which will add £280 to the annual energy bill of hard-pressed homeowners by 2020.
Tory Chris Heaton-Harris, Daventry MP, is the driving force behind the new parliamentary pressure group.
He said: “Ministers need to look at this policy again. It is an inefficient technology, it adds to the bills of consumers, it harms the balance of the National Grid, it is the wrong renewable for the UK. We need a change of policy.” Britain is the only country in the world to have signed up to cut CO2 emissions by 2050. The pledge, enshrined in the Climate Change Act, requires a major expansion of wind farm development bankrolled by taxpayer subsidies.
It is an inefficient technology, it adds to the bills of consumers, it harms the balance of the National Grid, it is the wrong renewable for the UK
Official figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change suggest up to 32,000 more wind turbines could be erected in the next 20 years, of which 6,000 would be onshore sites.
At present, there are about 3,000 onshore wind turbines with a few hundred off shore. They generate less than two per cent of the nation’s power and are frequently brought to a standstill by too cold or too windy conditions.
MPs have grown alarmed by a trend for onshore wind farm applications to be approved on appeal because of Mr Huhne’s target, even when inspectors concede they will be a blight.
Last month a planning inspector approved a turbine farm overlooking the Battle of Naseby site in Northamptonshire, even after he admitted it would “harm” the historic setting. The proposal from German firm E.ON for six 415ft turbines was rejected by Daventry District Council but national planning inspector Paul Griffiths overturned the ruling.
In the Lords last week, Lord Naseby, patron of the Naseby Battlefield Project, urged Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to call in the decision, which he said would devastate the view of the Civil War battlefield.
“We do not have the funds to challenge in the High Court. However, the Secretary of State has the right to call it in at any point,” he said.
Each year thousands of tourists visit the site of the 1645 battle in which Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army destroyed the forces of King Charles I.
It was a turning point in British history, and the site was heralded as “the birthplace of democracy in England” by Lord Peter Brooke of Sutton Mandeville.
Raising the issue in the Commons last month, Mr Heaton-Harris, whose constituency includes the site, said it was “unbelievable that one planning inspector can overrule all elements of democracy” because of the “particularly poor policies we have”. He added: “That is what upsets people about the onshore wind industry. The sooner that can change, the better.”