Giant wind turbines could be built in schools and hospitals across the North after the Government called for massive investment in renewables.
As Environment Secretary David Miliband yesterday admitted he was “scared” about the threat of climate change, the Government announced plans to allow the development of 300ft turbines on public land.
Schools, hospitals, council offices and Ministry of Defence sites are all under consideration and ministers say each project should produce up to five megawatts of power – the equivalent of two 100m turbines.
Environmental campaigners, however, warned that the Government was forcing a “crude one size fits all” policy on the country, insisting wind power was in most cases uneconomic and inappropriate – especially in built-up urban areas.
“I really hope ministers recognise that wind is not always the best or most suitable renewable source for particular locations. Around large buildings and in urban areas it is dramatically uneconomic,” said Renewable Energy Foundation spokesman Tom Constable.
Speaking to the Labour conference in Manchester, Mr Miliband said the country was at risk of “sleepwalking towards catastrophe”.
The South Shields MP said the scale of the challenge had been brought home to him and that “we should be quite scared (about climate change).
“It’s important not to be alarmist about it but it’s important to be alarmed.”
He told delegates: “Climate change is here, in our country. It is an issue for our generation as well as future generations and those who deny it are the flat-earthers of the 21st Century.”
Demanding lifestyle changes, Mr Miliband said cavity wall insulation in one million homes, costing £150, would be the equivalent of taking nearly 700,000 cars off the road.
A £10m fund announced by the Government yesterday aims to attract up to £500m private investment in renewables, particularly wind, with schools, hospitals and public bodies able to use the energy to cut their bills or to sell back to power companies.
The scheme could produce 500m watts of renewable electricity – enough to fuel homes in Newcastle, Exeter, Oxford and Norwich, said Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay.
The trust, which is running the scheme, hopes to fast-track the building of wind turbines over the next five years with Mr Delay saying the ambitious plans would increase wind generation capacity by 25%.
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