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Grid is ‘too full’ for wind power

The National Grid does not have enough capacity to carry the electricity that would be generated by proposed Northumberland wind farms, an inquiry will hear this week.

Campaigner Bill Short will tell the hearing, which is being held jointly for three proposals in the Rede Valley north of Hexham, that even if the turbines are put up, there will be no way of transporting the energy they produce.

As part of his evidence he will point to a National Grid statement, which he says shows there is no capacity available for the proposed turbines if they are built. He said: “The fact is that you can only take so much current. The National Grid wires that run on the pylons take renewable energy from Scotland down to where it is needed, in London.

“But they are already at capacity in terms of how much they can carry.”

Mr Short, a retired physics lecturer who has analysed alternative energy sources, will tell the inquiry that the statement showed that the turbines already built across the whole of the north and Scotland meant there was no more space.

He said: “At the moment there is no answer to it. The only possible answer would be to build new National Grid power lines from Scotland down to Nottingham, but you have to think of the time and planning that will take.

“You are talking about capacity that might become available about 10 years down the line.”

The inquiry, which reconvenes today at the Britannia Newcastle Airport Hotel, Ponteland, will this week hear from a range of objectors, before adjourning until October.

And Mr Short, whose Kirkwhelpington home is close to the proposed sites, said many good reasons had been given why the developments should not go ahead.

He said: “It is a combination of things. We have the Ministry of Defence, the airport, the social consequences and landscape issues – the list is extensive.

“There are many straws that have broken the camel’s back.”

But a National Grid spokesman warned that its seven-year statement should be treated as a guide rather than a guarantee of future capacity.

He said: “The statement is a forecast that gives the market information at that time.

“It shows what we have in place and what we are discussing. Some of the things which appear might not make it for all sorts of reasons.”

Mr Short is due to speak at the inquiry tomorrow.

Other objectors speaking this week include the Natural History Society of Northumbria, a number of parish councils and CREDIT, the campaign group set up in Tynedale.

By Ben Guy

The Journal

22 July 2008