November 20, 2012

Cumbria council leader wants new approach to windfarms

By Chris Story | News & Star |

A council leader has waded further into Britain’s renewable energy row and called on the Government to end its “fixation” with windfarms.

Eddie Martin says the “extraordinary” subsidies paid to turbine developers would be better spent on other forms of power – including nuclear.

The Conservative at the helm of Cumbria County Council has written to energy and climate change minister John Hayes urging him to stop the march of turbines that he believes could damage the countryside and the economy.

Mr Martin has become increasingly vocal in his opposition to onshore developments, telling his fellow Tory that the situation surrounding them in Cumbria “continues to deteriorate”.

The minister sparked debate last month when he said turbines could no longer be “imposed on communities”, adding that he had ordered new analysis on the case for onshore wind power that would inform future policy.

Prime Minister David Cameron later told the Commons there had been no change towards his Government’s renewable energy stance.

Mr Martin is angry that the county council has never received a response sent to Westminster three years ago in which “grave concerns” were expressed about windfarm schemes.

And he hopes Mr Hayes’ boss, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, can be convinced to join his thinking.

In his letter to Mr Hayes, he wrote: “I call on the secretary of state to reduce his fixation with windfarms and fully support the stance you have so clearly and bravely articulated. Cumbria is now the fifth poorest county or region in the whole of the EU. I fail to see how the development of a possible further 395 wind turbines will aid Cumbria’s economy or benefit Cumbria’s population in the long run.”

Mr Martin believes his calls for future wind turbine developments to be called into question by research including that carried out in the north west that shows current targets for windfarms would cause major changes to the countryside’s character.

He also supports calls from energy regulator Ofgem for an end to the subsidy system, saying there is a near £1bn “hidden subsidy” at the moment, set to rise to £32bn by 2020.

Anti-turbine campaigners in Cumbria claimed a victory last week when three developments in Allerdale were turned down.

Marion Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Friends of Rural Cumbria’s Environment said: “We’re bringing together a lot of groups to fit different applications and to support each other.”

A meeting of opponents of a windfarm at Carwarth, near Rosley, will take place on November 29 at Rosley Village Hall.

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