Onshore turbines: A new policy wind of change?
Published: 6th Jun 2012 17:35:58
Like the church spire and the electricity pylon, they've fast become a 21st Century landmark of the English countryside.
There are now an estimated 3,200 onshore wind turbines, many of them in so-called wind farms.
But does a decision by Lincolnshire County Council indicate a significant brake on further expansion?
The Conservative-run council has drawn up tough new planning guidelines to curb having any more wind turbines.
Lincolnshire has been a dream location for the turbine operators.
The county is flat, rural and - thanks to its north sea coastline - it's pretty windy.
But Cllr Martin Hill, the county council's leader, has had enough.
Our county is fast becoming a forest of wind turbines”
He says there are already 75, and dozens more turbine applications are in the planning pipeline.
"Our county is fast becoming a forest of wind turbines. Our planning guidance is an attempt to put an end to that," he said.
But will other councils follow suit?
The contrast with neighbouring Nottinghamshire couldn't be greater. It's handling just six turbine planning applications, four of those for wind farms.
As a spokesman told me: "We are planning no guidance on wind turbines at the moment and have no plans for the foreseeable future."
Lincolnshire's decision will be controversial.
It's not a planning authority as such. It's the local district councils that handle each planning application.
Refusal on the basis of the county's guidance will spark costly legal appeals.
The Green Party is angry.
It cites a recent opinion poll that claims one in seven people actually want more onshore wind turbines, not less.
Inefficient and intermittent energy production.... typifies onshore wind turbines”
The Lib Dems will also be looking very closely at whether Lincolnshire becomes a standard bearer for other Tory-led shire councils.
The issue increasingly goes to the heart of Conservative opposition to onshore wind turbines.
There's been back bench pressure in the Commons on David Cameron.
Northamptonshire Tory, Chris Heaton-Harris, has led the charge for tougher planning restrictions.
He organised a letter signed by 100 Conservative MPs that urged the Prime Minister to rethink the coalition's whole approach.
"In these financially straightened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for the inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines," said the Daventry MP in his letter.
The Treasury, always on the lookout for new budget savings, may agree.
But what about the Liberal Democrat who is the coalition's Energy and Climate Change Secretary?
Could Ed Davey have some political wriggle room?
I've seen figures that show Britain may soon exceed its targets for renewable energy from onshore wind turbines.
According to energy lobbyists Renewable UK, a modern turbine can generate enough electricity to power 1,400 homes for a year.
Existing wind turbines and projects already approved will surpass the government's current renewable targets, according to some energy experts.
If the onshore political wind is blowing in a new direction, it could well be coming from Lincolnshire.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Onshore turbines: A new policy wind of change? [Online] (Updated 6th Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1433090/Onshore-turbines-A-new-policy-wind-of-change [Accessed 19th Apr 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
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