Green campaigners have welcomed Government plans for up to 7,000 wind turbines around the British coast.
However, fishermen said the proposals could have a huge impact on their industry in the Thames Estuary.
The proposals announced by business secretary John Hutton could mean about two offshore turbines for every mile of the coastline.
Ministers hope to reduce their reliance on countries such as Russia for their energy needs and want 20 per cent of Britain’s energy needs to come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
However, there will have to be other sources, such as a new generation of nuclear power stations, including a possible one at Bradwell, near Maldon.
Prominent south Essex green campaigner Irene Willis said she was greatly in favour of wind turbines as a renewable energy source, but recognised they were still quite unpopular with the public.
She said: “Wind turbines are one of the most unpopular of the renewables and cause a lot of emotions because they can be dominant in the landscape.
“But I think if they were put in place, they would soon be accepted as part of the landscape and seascape by people opposed to them.
“I suspect the Government is doing this just to promote their own plan for more nuclear power stations. There will be a lot of opposition to this proposal, which will mean the nuclear option can be pushed even more.”
However, the plan has been deeply unpopular with fishermen.
Southend trawlerman Glyn Gilson said: “It will mean we will lose more of our fishing grounds, which will mean more pressure on the industry.
“We have already lost a considerable amount of fishing ground because of the turbines at Whitstable and, from what I have heard, they are not working reliably or proving a cheap way of producing energy.”
Southend Council deputy leader John Lamb said he too had reservations about the Gov- ernment proposals.
Mr Lamb, who is also chairman of the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee, said: “The North Sea would be a good area for the turbines as there is usually a reasonable amount of wind.
“But I am concerned they are not particularly attractive, nor has it been shown they are totally efficient.
“All the consequences would need to be looked at before the Government goes ahead with proposals of this magnitude.”
By Geoff Percival
11 December 2007
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