A new generation of wind farms should be built along motorways and outside every school to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, Gordon Brown’s new climate change “tsar” has told the Telegraph.
Lord Turner, head of the Government’s Committee on Climate Change, warned that Britain might have to do radically more, and sooner than expected, to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
Lord Turner (left) and wind turbines situated next to motorways in China
That meant accepting “some visual intrusion” from wind turbines in both the urban and the rural landscape as well as a new generation of nuclear power stations and coal plants with carbon capture technology.
Lord Turner, who as plain Adair Turner was head of the CBI, said: “If you say, should we put a row of wind turbines along the top of really beautiful downland, probably not. But I do think we’re not being imaginative enough about brownfield sites.
“If the wind dynamics work, why couldn’t you put turbines every 300 yards up the central reservation of the motorway – where you have already produced a visual intrusion already? And what about old industrial sites, ports and so on?”
Lord Turner added: “On the whole I do think you can’t go into this debate and say ‘I’m in favour of dealing with climate change but the moment there is any windmill that is going to impinge on my view, I’m agin it.’
“I suspect we can get more wind, in addition to that, from intermediate-sized wind turbines rather than the great big ones. The 15- to 50-kilowatt ones on top of a pole but not a mega pole. The sort you put outside a hospital, a factory park or outside every school.”
“Or ‘ I’m against nuclear on principle, even if it’s cost effective and you can deal with the waste.'”
Lord Turner has been given the job of reporting back to Gordon Brown by the end of the year on whether Britain’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 is enough to stop dangerous climate change.
Some scientists have suggested since that figure was set eight years ago that an 80 per cent cut is in fact needed as Britain’s part of a global deal to prevent a two degree rise in the world’s average temperature.
Lord Turner, whose committee, set up under the Climate Change Bill, holds its first meeting on Monday, warned: “There is a body of scientific evidence which is pushing that figure up rather than down.”
He added: “If you want a very high probability of avoiding danger, science pushes you towards bigger cuts earlier.
“It is going to require some hard decisions and people will have to accept tradeoffs they don’t want.”
That meant setting a much higher price for a ton of carbon emitted on the EU emissions trading scheme, tighter building regulations and tighter standards on vehicle emissions, he said.
Lord Turner and his Irish wife, Orna Ni Chionna, who is now chairman of the Soil Association, the organic farming body, had a 55-acre farm in West Berkshire before moving back to London.
He became interested in the environment when writing his book, Just Capital: the Liberal Economy, which had a chapter on green capitalism.
It was being written around the time the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommended the Government’s present target of a 60 per cent cut by 2050.
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
8 March 2008
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