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Number of wind turbines to quadruple under Renewable Energy Strategy

Number of wind turbines to quadruple under Renewable Energy StrategyBen Webster, Environment Editor Via TimesOnlineIt is likely that, under the plan, 3,000 wind turbines will be installed in

the seaThe number of wind turbines is set to quadruple over the next decade under

government plans to force through wind farm planning applications.Ministers have put wind power at the heart of a Renewable Energy Strategy,

which is due to be released on Wednesday. It will outline how Britain is to

meet its target of a 34 per cent cut in CO2 emissions by 2020.The Government’s plans are likely to include more than 4,000 additional

onshore turbines by 2020, many built at beauty spots and on high ground

which would make them visible across miles of open countryside.Another 3,000 turbines would be installed at sea — some of them visible

from the coast, though others could be up to 100 miles offshore. Ministers

are considering several measures to push wind farm planning applications

through more quickly.Of the 93 applications submitted for onshore wind farms in the past three

years, only 35 were approved by local authorities. Another 14 were

eventually passed after an appeal but almost half of the original

applications failed.In England, the South East, South West, East Midlands, London and the North

West regions have all set targets for installing a combined total 1,310

megawatts of wind turbine capacity by 2010. So far they have installed only

340 megawatts (MW) and have another 66MW under construction.The worst performing area is the South West, which has so far achieved only

15 per cent of its 2010 target of 355MW and has no wind farms under

construction. There are 2,327 onshore wind turbines in Britain, with an

average capacity of 1.5MW — enough to power 840 homes. Offshore there are

210 larger turbines, the latest of which have a capacity of 5MW.Critics of wind farms point out that they rely on an intermittent source of

energy and have to be backed up by fossil fuel or nuclear power when there

is no wind. They also object to the visual intrusion of many turbines.Dustin Benton, policy officer for the Campaign to Protect Rural England,

said: “Wind turbines need to be sensitively sited, because they are large

industrial structures and inappropriate for certain landscapes.”The CBI has also thrown its weight behind the anti-turbine lobby by calling

on the Government to focus less on wind power and more on building new

nuclear power stations and coal plants with carbon emission-capturing

technology. It said Britain was sleepwalking towards an unhealthy reliance

on gas for electricity generation if the wind targets could not be met.The Government has already put pressure on councils to approve wind farms,

issuing guidance which states that applicants should expect “expeditious

and sympathetic” treatment.The British Wind Energy Association, the trade body for suppliers and

operators, wants ministers to adopt a “national presumption” in favour of

all renewable energy developments and proposes a “flying squad” of experts

to help councils to overcome objections.Ministers will claim on Wednesday that 250,000 “green” jobs could be

created as Britain increases renewable energy from 2 per cent to 15 per

cent by 2020. Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said:

“We can lead in the green jobs of the future, making wind turbines, making

parts for nuclear power stations.”However, Britain’s only wind turbine factory, in Newport on the Isle of

Wight, is due to close this month with the loss of 600 jobs. Any new

turbines are likely to be made abroad.The trade union Unison said: “It is criminal to actually have the only wind

turbine factory close. The Government should be intervening now.”For the very latest UK wind jobs and jobs in renewables globally please

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