United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Environment groups call for new renewables policy

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The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) has joined forces with four other British countryside groups to call for a new direction for wind power policy from the government. The groups include the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, the Council for National Parks, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Ramblers Association. They say that damage to Britain's unspoilt landscapes from wind turbines will continue unless there are changes to the way the industry is financed and regulated. The groups say financial contracts for wind projects should take account of landscape and wildlife impacts, and that planning controls for wind developments should be strengthened. They also call on the government to give top priority to energy conservation, and give financial support to a wider mix of renewable technologies. The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) agrees with the environment groups that at the heart of the problem is the structure of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO), legislation which awards subsidies to schemes with the cheapest electricity. NFFO's highly competitive nature pushes wind projects to the very windiest areas which can result in conflict with landscape protection objectives, says the BWEA's Gaynor Hartnell. "With the best wind resource in Europe by a long margin, vast areas of this country are suitable for wind energy. We would prefer to see a more even spread of wind energy across the UK." She says the association also shares the groups' view that energy projects should pay the full environmental and social costs associated with their operation.

In its ongoing crusade against wind development, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) has launched a glossy colour brochure warning about the impact of wind farms on hills and coasts. The ten page brochure "Wind Turbine Blight: a plea for the landscape," likens a wind turbine to a "wolf in green clothing which in the cloak of political correctness is stealthily industrialising the cherished landscapes supposedly protected by statutory policies." The CPRW -- whose policy is to oppose all wind farms -- also wants current planning advice changed so that landscape factors are given primacy over renewable energy.

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