Interesting article in today's Guardian. Cust & pasted below - the link is here
Opposing wind farms should be socially taboo, says Ed Miliband
Allegra Stratton, political correspondent The Guardian, Tuesday 24 March 2009
Opposition to wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, has said.
Speaking at a screening in London of the climate change documentary The Age of Stupid, Miliband said the government needed to be stronger in facing down local opposition to wind farms.
He said: "The government needs to be saying, 'It is socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area - like not wearing your seatbelt or driving past a zebra crossing'."
Wind power is crucial to government attempts to meet an EU target of producing 20% of all energy through renewables by 2020, but plans to build some 4,000 onshore wind turbines are being opposed by more than 200 anti-wind farm groups. High-profile individuals such as Melvyn Bragg, mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington and David Bellamy have also been involved in stopping the construction of turbines. Residents are concerned about the detrimental effect on their landscape - wind turbines are located on hills for maximum exposure - noise levels and disturbance to TV reception. Campaigners also point out that the irregularity of wind-power generation requires the turbines to be backed up by nuclear power and coal.
The government has also been criticised by the energy regulator, Ofgem, for the "unfair" way in which consumers' energy bills are subsidising renewable technology.
Though the decision rests with the local authority planning process, opponents say that after June 2008, the new Planning Act will give the government powers to intervene via the newly created infrastructure planning commission (IPC).
Bob Barfoot, Devon chair of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that while his organisation was not opposed to the principle of wind farms, popular opposition in the last three months had seen two of three proposals fail, pending appeal. Barfoot said the new act - which could see the secretary of state able to intervene in unsuccessful attempts - was "undermining democracy".
Miliband faces discomfort over the new Planning Act within the House of Commons. In a recent debate in the Commons, the Tory MP Malcolm Moss questioned whether planning inspectors in the Fens should have been able to overturn local authority planning decisions.
However, Friends of the Earth said fears that the IPC would intervene were unfounded since most proposals were likely to be too small to be reconsidered centrally. Only rejected projects larger than 50 megawatts go to the IPC.