Puffins and other seabirds will be driven to extinction by Boris Johnson’s plan to power Britain with ‘limitless’ offshore wind energy by 2020, the RSPB has warned.
The conservation charity has urged the Government to keep its objectives ‘in harmony with nature’, recommending to build solar and wind panels in areas with a lower level of biodiversity.
It follows the Prime Minister earlier this month setting out a green energy plan, which will see thousands of coastal turbines built in the coming years.
Puffins are listed in the red category of conservation importance, meaning there has been at least a 50 per cent decline in their UK breeding population over the last 25 years.
Seabirds can get caught in the sharp propellers of offshore wind farms, which are also frequently set up in shallow waters where the animals feed.
A spokesperson for the RSPB told The Telegraph: ‘Our seabirds and marine environment are in trouble, facing a cocktail of threats from human pressures and climate change.
Without transforming how we plan development in our seas alongside the delivery of meaningful conservation measures, these combined threats risk irreversible seabird losses.’
The charity added: ‘We risk losing our globally significant breeding colonies to “a thousand cuts” where no individual scheme is responsible but collectively the impact is devastating.’
Mr Johnson has pledged to move at ‘gale force speed’ to make Britain the world leader in offshore wind technology and create up to 60,000 jobs.
His announcement will see the Government invest £160million in upgrading ports and infrastructure in areas including Teesside and the Humber to help manufacture and install the next generation of offshore turbines.
The Prime Minister also pledged to install 1GW of floating turbines around the coast – 15 times the world’s total current capacity.
A report published by Aurora Energy Research suggested increasing the offshore target to 40GW could ultimately cost £50 billion.
The firm said: ‘Analysis by Aurora Energy Research shows that reaching the 40GW by 2030 target will require 30GW of capacity to be commissioned during the 2020s- three times as much as that installed during the 2010s.
‘This would require one turbine to be installed every weekday during the whole of the 2020s, and almost £50bn in capital investment.’
Downing Street previously said ‘it is not about government investment alone’ when the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman was asked about the £50bn cost estimate.
Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said the UK’s commitment to green energy ‘pales in comparison’ to its European neighbours.
He earlier said: ‘Nothing in the Prime Minister’s re-announcement today on wind energy targets will tackle the immediate jobs crisis our country faces.
‘We need ambition on renewable energy, but Boris Johnson rarely delivers on his rhetoric.’
Mr Johnson said that his wind power pledge would mean ‘your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands’.
He added: ‘I remember how some people used to sneer at wind power, 20 years ago, and say that it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.
‘They forgot the history of this country. It was offshore wind that puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson, and propelled this country to commercial greatness.’
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