Climate campaigners furious as huge wind farm rejected

Ministers have rejected plans to build a major wind farm in North West England, judging it too unsightly. Environmental groups condemn the move as a major setback in the fight against climate change.

The UK has been relying heavily on wind power to meet its pledge of cutting CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels in the next 4 years.

Thursday’s rejection of the 27 turbine Whinash wind farm, which would have provided 67MW of clean electricity – enough to power 45,000 homes, has put a question mark over other on-shore wind power projects.

The ministers’ decision follows long-standing controversy over the wind farm (see related story), resulting in a seven-week inquiry by an independent inspector last year that finished with a negative verdict.

Explaining his decision to approve the results of the inquiry, energy minister Malcolm Wicks said: “Tackling global warming is critical but we must also nurture the immediate environment and wildlife. This is at the crux of the debate over wind energy.”

“On this occasion, we agree with the independent inspector that the impact on the landscape and recreation would outweigh the benefits in terms of reducing carbon emissions,” he said.

Environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth strongly condemned the move as a setback in the fight against climate change.

Friends of the Earth’s director, Tony Juniper, said: “We are appalled by the Government’s decision to turn down this wind development. On the one hand Ministers say they support renewable energy, and on the other turn down carefully worked up proposals that would have minimal environmental impacts while helping to fight climate change – the greatest threat of all.”

“The Ministers who decided this should be ashamed. No wonder the Government is failing to tackle climate change.”

Stephen Tindale, Executive Director of Greenpeace, said: “Any Government that wants to expand airports and turn down windfarms is simply not fit to govern. It’s hard to believe that the nuclear industry has not played some role in this.”

“Climate change will ravage beautiful areas like the Lake District. I hope those responsible will be willing to explain to future generations how they played their part in allowing the savage grip of global warming to trash the countryside and claim hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Dr John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation, which campaigns for renewable power “while safeguarding the landscapes of the United Kingdom,” said:

“This is an enormously significant indication of the shape of things to come. Canny investors will realise that the on-shore wind bonanza is over and that the future belongs to technologies such as tidal and biomass with high intrinsic merit.”

By Goska Romanowicz

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie