Britain published new plans on Thursday to streamline the development of offshore wind, wave and tidal power projects, while still protecting wildlife, as part of the fight against global warming.
While onshore wind farms are sprouting up all over Britain in the race to develop clean sources of power, offshore wind – which is much more expensive – is only now starting to develop. Wave and tidal are even further behind.
“Protecting our seas is one of the biggest environmental challenges after climate change and the two are closely linked,” Environment Secretary, David Miliband said.
“The proposals in the Marine Bill White Paper are a first for the UK and would raise planning for the management and protection of our seas to a world-leading level.”
The white paper policy document, which is open for public consultation until June, proposes a strategic marine planning system to set national objectives and priorities for offshore developments.
It also aims to speed up the marine licensing process and create a new oversight body, the Marine Management Organization, to ensure that proposals for wind and wave power developments are in the right place and do not threaten wildlife.
Scientists say that average global temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to carbon gas emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport, putting millions of lives at risk from floods and famines.
The European Union has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and Britain on Tuesday set out plans to put into law a target of a 60 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
Carbon-free energy resources along the coast involve hazards for wildlife – large barrages for harnessing tidal power can affect fish and wind turbines have been blamed for killing migrating birds.
MORE AND FASTER DEVELOPMENTS
Marine minister Ben Bradshaw told the British Wind Energy Association’s 4th annual marine energy conference the government wanted more and faster offshore power developments.
“The sea is one of the major resources in the United Kingdom. It has the potential to supply a very significant part of our renewable energy needs,” he said.
“We need to push harder on wave and tidal power,” he said. “The wind may not always blow, but the tides are always strong and regular.”
Keith Anderson, renewables director at utility ScottishPower, said the industry had the potential to be as big as the North Sea oil and gas industry but that it badly needed much more government cash to start real developments.
“The United Kingdom has a lead, but others are catching up fast,” he told the conference. “As with all new technologies, there is an urgent need for start-up capital.”
He also urged the government to expand the national electricity grid and make it far easier for renewable energy schemes to connect to it.
Bradshaw replied that a Planning White Paper due this month would clear away restrictive red tape that was currently stalling major infrastructure projects like road, out-of-town retail and power station projects.
By Jeremy Lovell
15 March 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding