Wind farms that “blight beautiful landscapes” should be scrapped, a Government minister said yesterday.
Energy minister Malcolm Wicks has already blocked one large wind farm set for the Lake District and said he would be prepared to do so again if a planning application would result in “unsightly or intrusive” wind farms.
Campaigners hoping to stop wind power developments in the Northumberland countryside seized on his words last night.
But Mr Wicks said only in exceptional circumstances should these projects be blocked and he continues to support wind farms across the country.
He said in Newcastle yesterday: “There will be more wind farms in Britain, both onshore and offshore, and rightly so.
“We want a fifth of our energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 and the most proven way of reaching that at the moment is wind farming.
“As committed as we are to wind farms, it does not mean that we in Government, local or central, should always say yes.
“I turned down one large farm on the edge of the Lake District because it would have blighted a beautiful landscape. You can draw the line at the need for cleaner energy when you consider the impact on the local level.”
Northumberland campaigners opposed to wind farms want the minister to consider the North’s “unspoilt landscape” when the next big planning application lands on his desk.
Dominic Coupe, whose family farms near Middlemoor in north Northumberland, said the wind turbines could only have an intrusive impact, given the region’s landscape.
He said: “If the minister feels it is right to block a large scale development in the Lake District then Northumberland has an equally good argument for limiting wind farms.”
Don Brownlow, a spokesman for Moorsyde Action Group said wind farms put the region’s tourist economy at risk.
He said: “When we talk to businesses who are dependent upon tourism they tell us that all their surveys reveal people come here because it is peaceful and tranquil, with unspoilt beauty.”
Mr Wicks, who was in the region to consult the business community about proposals for nuclear power, said the Government was helping fund other energy sources. “Marine power, tidal power is potentially very exciting, we’re investing in this and spending tens of millions of pounds on these technologies.
“We are using the Renewables Obligations which force the energy companies to source a set per cent of their electricity from renewable technology.”
by Adrian Pearson
24 July 2007
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