News Release: for immediate use 6/6/13
Public opposition to wind farms wins the day
The UK government has today made important changes to the way that on-shore wind farms are given approval. Recognising that it can no longer allow a deeply flawed national energy policy to trump genuine concerns about visual and aural intrusion, ministers are to allow local planners to have the final say on the matter. The Scientific Alliance welcomes this move as a step in the right direction, even though it may then put increased emphasis on the even more expensive option of off-shore wind.
In a move apparently designed to show that the coalition still has a green agenda, communities which allow wind farms to be built are to be offered five times more in payments from the developers. Unfortunately, this sort of thinly disguised bribe is likely to prove socially divisive. Opinion within many communities threatened by wind turbines is already polarised. Those who would have to live close to the noisy machines realise that money cannot compensate them for loss of sleep or the ability to sit quietly in their gardens. Others who may live several miles away, would be happy to take the money. Increasing the sums on offer can only exacerbate the damage to rural communities.
Martin Livermore, director of the Scientific Alliance, said “This is a belated but welcome move from the government. It will take some of the pressure off local communities threatened by new developments. However, it will do nothing to reduce the unnecessary inflation of energy bills which will continue as consumers and industry pay for the hugely expensive option of off-shore development. Politicians must realise that a more radical change of policy is needed.”
The current change of tack applies only to England, but it is Scotland which is set to suffer more as the SNP government pursues its vision of becoming the Saudi Arabia of renewables. Prof Jack Ponton, on behalf of the Scientific Alliance Scotland, said “It is good to see that Westminster politicians have realised they cannot ride roughshod over the legitimate opposition of local residents. However, it is vital that Holyrood rapidly follows this lead, otherwise developers turned away by local opposition in England will simply pile into Scotland. We already have nearly six times as many turbines per head of population as they do in England.”
Notes for editors:
For more details on the changes, see:
Martin Livermore 07984 033354
Professor Jack Ponton FREng FIChemE 01896 849557
Professor Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE Acad.Europ 07944 583220
The Scientific Alliance
St John’s Innovation Centre
Cambridge CB4 0WS