United Kingdom

United Kingdom

No backtracking pledges Prime Minister on renewables commitment

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged that the government is "completely committed" to the UK meeting its share of EU targets. In his first major speech on the environment, Brown was responding to recent accusations that the government is trying to weasel out of its fair share of Europe's binding goal of 20% of energy from renewables by 2020. He warned that meeting the UK's renewables target will be a "huge challenge." At present only around 2% of total energy comes from renewables. More onshore wind farms will be needed, plus greater use of energy from waste, biomass and micro generation, he said. "I recognise that wind farms and other new energy installations are often seen as a burden to the local communities living near them, while their benefits go to society at large. So I want to explore how local communities can themselves benefit from the economic opportunities they create," said Brown. Investment will come from the private sector, "but the government will do more to remove the planning and other obstacles that are currently holding renewables back." He has urged cabinet ministers in charge of defence, business and transport to step up efforts to find solutions to the effects of wind farms on air traffic and defence radar. He announced that the first programs of the £1 billion public/private Energy Technologies Institute will be focused on research in offshore wind, wave and tidal stream energy. "And the new £370 million domestic Environmental Transformation Fund will help bring these technologies to market."

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