A nuclear pledge by the Government should be taken into consideration before any major wind farms are approved in Northumberland.
Two sets of turbines are currently outstanding near Alnwick – 18 at Middlemoor, which is lodged with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and a further 10 at Wandylaw, which is the subject of a planning appeal.
But objectors say the Government’s go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations should now form part of the decision-making process on both applications.
Robert Thorp, who opposes the turbines near his North Charlton farm, said: “This changes the wider picture completely. With nuclear power now thrust into the equation, along with recent announcements on increasing offshore wind generation, there must be a completely fresh look at onshore wind-farm development at sites like Middlemoor and Wandylaw.”
Alnwick District Council deputy leader John Taylor, who spoke at the Middlemoor public inquiry held at the end of last year, said: “This is something which BERR and the Government as a whole must take into consideration.
“The problem is they still don’t have solid energy policy in place for this country.
“Their argument is that there has to be a bit of everything, including renewables and nuclear.
“What they haven’t yet told us is how much of each.”
Npower renewables, which is behind the Middlemoor wind-farm application, says the site could be fully operational and generating power for more than 27,000 homes within two years of consent being given.
If built, it would have a lifespan of around 25 years, after which it would either be decommissioned or upgraded.
Regional development manager Clare Wilson said: “The UK needs a wide range of low-carbon electricity generating technologies to deliver energy that’s affordable, clean and secure.
“It is not a case of either nuclear power or wind power, both are needed to achieve carbon dioxide reduction targets and maintain security of energy supply.
“This is the view of Government, which has stated within its Nuclear White Paper: ‘To meet our 2050 CO2 reduction target, our view is the answer lies in having a diverse and flexible energy mix and a framework which opens up, rather than closes down, low-CO2 options’.
“The Government continues to strongly back the continuing deployment of renewable energy technologies such as wind power, as well as promoting measures to reduce energy consumption.”
British Wind Energy Association chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “Nuclear may well play a part in the UK’s long term energy supply, but it cannot address the urgent need to fill the UK’s growing energy gap over the next 10 years.
“The UK needs to take swift action to ensure the security of supply for our energy as our traditional supplies are retired. We cannot afford to wait until a new generation of nuclear is ready.”
The Government’s aim is to replace the current nuclear power stations, most of which are due to close by 2023.
Anti-nuclear campaigners are threatening legal action before new sites can be built.
By Robert Brooks
17 January 2008
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