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Report claims hundreds of wind turbines needed in Dorset

Hundreds of wind turbines would have to be erected in the Dorset countryside over the next few years for the county to meet green energy targets, a new report says.

Councils across the county have combined to find ways of creating more renewable energy after one of their surveys showed 83 per cent of people believe national and European requirements should be met.

The Dorset Energy Group of local authorities created three options and found that the ‘maximum scenario’ of 360 new turbines alongside other sources would create enough power to exceed the national target of 15 per cent of the power used by the county.

Their consultation document states their more ‘realistic’ and ‘medium scenario’ of 180 turbines alongside a combination of solar panels, hydropower schemes and other projects would create close to 12.5 per cent.

The document states: “Only the maximum scenario meets both the national 15 per cent renewable energy generation target and a more stretching 20 per cent.”

And it states that due to support among residents the consultation ‘proposes to adopt an aspirational target to generate more than 15 per cent’.

The European Renewable Energy Directive sets a legally binding target of creating 15 per cent of renewable energy of the total energy used by 2020.

Dorset currently generates less than one per cent – 0.95 – of its total energy demand from renewable energy. The national average is three per cent.

No large wind turbines have been built here and plans for four in Purbeck were rejected by councillors in March.

Pete Barker, spokesman for the Say Yes To Wind Power group, hopes the consultation will help educate people about renewable energy.

He said: “It’s not just about wind – but wind and wave are clearly the way forward for the country.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has already expressed its opposition to the turbines.

And Geoffrey Edwardes spokesman for Dorset Against Rural Turbines, said: “They are seen as a quick and easy option even though there is not an awful lot to show for them in terms of power.”

Council’s view

A Dorset County Council spokesman stressed Dorset’s Renewable Energy Strategy draft document has been made to gauge opinion and that it is not a proposal and nothing has been agreed.

She said: “The Government has produced a ‘Renewable Energy Roadmap’ which suggests the UK is well on the way to meeting its renewable energy targets for 2020 without requiring anything like 180 on-shore wind turbines in Dorset.

“This does not absolve us of our responsibility to promote a range of renewable energy sources.”

The Renewable Energy Strategy is inviting feedback to Dorset County Council up to September 30.