September 29, 2006

Cumbria set to be turbine capital

Cumbria’s renewable energy future is blowing in the wind according to a new study that reveals turbines could be the county’s only answer to meeting government targets.

Environmental consultancy ADAS has produced a map showing likely sites for renewable energy by 2050.

On the map, much of Cumbria is depicted as being suitable for wind turbines but other large-scale renewable energy sources such as hydroelectricity, photovoltaics, biomass and biofuel are not suited to the county.

The map consolidates existing research into wind speeds and the conditions needed for all types of renewable energy.

While Cumbria seems to be restricted to harnessing wind power, other parts of the country, like the south west, are suitable for a variety of renewable energy generation.

Researcher John Spink, who led the study, said: “The country is not going to meet its renewable energy targets from any one source. Regions need to target the best suited sources of renewable fuel.”

Small areas of Cumbria suited to biomass and biogas energy production are identified in the study.

Mr Spink added: “In Cumbria, there is a huge chunk of the county hatched out for wind power. We are not suggesting that all of it should be covered in turbines but we expect there to be more wind power in the county.”

The number of wind farms in Cumbria is likely to double under targets set by the North West Regional Assembly; there are 11 windfarms in the county with up to 10 more due by 2015 under the draft North West plan.

Such development would make Cumbria the most densely populated county for wind turbines.

The pressure on Cumbria County Council and district authorities to relax planning restrictions on windfarms will intensify.

The government has a target of increasing generation from renewable energy sources to 10 per cent by 2010. It is planning that 20 per cent of all electricity be generated by renewable energy sources by 2020, a large part of this to be met by windfarms.

* A plan to build a windfarm near Allonby has received nearly 1,000 objections.

Dutch company Nuon Renewables wants to build five 320-feet-high turbines at Brownrigg Hall Farm between the coastal village and Westnewton.

The windfarm would be just outside the boundary of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Campaigners have been encouraged by Allerdale council’s refusal to grant permission for a test mast at Tallentire Hill, near Cockermouth, earlier this month.

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