UK no nearer to 2010 renewables target with Planning White Paper

Proposals won’t bring benefit for renewables in the short term

BWEA called on Government this week to enforce its own existing planning policy in order to meet the 2010 10% renewable power target. While the Planning White Paper proposals may bring benefits in the longer term, it is the current lack of determination by Government in driving through positive decisions for onshore wind projects that is threatening delivery of the target.

The proposals in the Planning White Paper are designed to speed up the planning system for major infrastructure projects of national importance, while announcing greater priority be put on energy security and climate change. Onshore wind is the leading renewable energy technology and the only technology able to deliver on a large scale right now. There are currently 74 planning applications in England for onshore wind farms which amount to around 1% of the UK’s electricity supply, and we can expect a similar amount to be submitted into the planning system in the next 3 years. However, the White Paper proposals will only come into play in 2009/10, only apply to onshore wind projects which are greater than 50 MW (~20 turbines) and only apply in England and Wales. There are not many large sites for onshore wind farms in England and Wales: those that do exist have already been identified and will have been submitted into the planning system before the new policy is adopted, rendering it almost redundant in England and Wales.

BWEA is calling for prompt decision making to support existing onshore wind projects, but with only 5% of applications determined within the statutory 16 week period in 2006, the Government’s proposals fall short of addressing how to speed up delivery of this valuable carbon free resource. Government must also be more diligent in monitoring and enforcing the delivery of its own policy on the ground, as decision making bodies at the local level have either been ill-informed about the policy or have failed to give sufficient weight to the agreed national position.

Chris Tomlinson, BWEA’s Director of Programme Strategy, advised, “We need a planning system that is fit for purpose during the next 3 critical years which determine whether the Government can meet its 2010 renewable energy target. Robust national planning policy is already in place and if it was simply implemented in a timely fashion, the wind industry could deliver the renewable energy target and set the UK on its way to realizing a sustainable energy future.”

Tomlinson continued, “New and improved policy is worthless if it is not implemented through decision making. An urgent culture shift is required to ensure that not only do we have robust policy in place, but that decision makers are aware of its existence and are encouraged to implement it. This process is simply not happening, as the Statement of National Need for Renewable Energy sits at the back of the Energy Review gathering dust.”

For further information contact Chris Tomlinson, 07815 141 008, chris@bwea.com
British Wind Energy Association
Posted by: Trevor Sievert (Online Editorial Journalist), Author: Jim Cartwright
wind energy, renewable energy, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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