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United Kingdom

Oppositon collapses under questions

One of the most active groups campaigning against wind energy in Britain has been accused by members of parliament of gross exaggeration and debasing the debate. The accusation was levelled against the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) during an inquiry into wind energy development in Wales being conducted by the UK parliament's Welsh Affairs Committee.

When questioned closely by the committee much of the CPRW's evidence was found to be flawed and the action group was unable to substantiate its claims on several occasions. As one wind industry observer at the proceedings said: "It was embarrassing to watch." One of the more ludicrous assertions by CPRW was that further development of wind energy should be stopped until costs are brought down to a rational level. As the MPs said in answer to this: costs can only be brought down by deployment since the technology cannot develop without deployment.

Referring to figures in an article in the organisation's magazine which was submitted as evidence to the inquiry, an MP asked whether the CPRW should be engaged in exaggerated complaints against wind farms. The article had stated that 15,000 turbines would be needed to equal the output from a typical coal-fired power station. The MPs pointed out that according to their own figures, in reality only around 6000 turbines would be needed. "This is almost a deception of the CPRW readership," one concluded.

The inquiry, at last being wound down, has taken longer than expected as more bodies who submitted evidence have been questioned by the 11 Welsh MPs. Organisations questioned so far include the British Wind Energy Association, the Department of Trade and Industry, local authority planning officers, wind farm developers and environment groups. A report of the inquiry's findings is expected before parliament adjourns for the summer in June.

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