Wind farms do cut CO2 emissions, says report
Controversial wind farms slash emissions to the equivalent of taking 2.1 million cars off the road a year, an analysis to bust "myths" over green power has found.
The report from left-leaning think-tank IPPR argues wind turbines are more efficient and reliable than claimed by Conservative MPs and other critics.
More than 100 wind turbines cover the rural Westcountry, which has been targeted by developers and prompted criticism over their visual impact.
In the report, energy consultants conclude there is no technical reason why wind turbines should be opposed – pointing to a reduction of 5.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2011, which equates to pollution caused by 2.1 million cars.
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Scaling-back Britain's onshore wind ambitions would also prompt a hike in household energy bills as more expensive energy technologies – such as offshore wind turbines – would be deployed, it claims.
The report, Beyond the Bluster, adds wind power is "predictable" – making it reliable – which is among the biggest criticisms levelled by opponents.
Will Straw, IPPR associate director, said: "It is absolutely right that government support for wind power is not overly generous and that the views of local communities about developments in their area are taken into account.
"But government policy on this technology must be determined by evidence and not by political whim."
In February, more than 100 Tory MPs sent a letter to David Cameron arguing for a cut in state support for onshore wind power. Ministers have decided on a 10% cut to subsidies – which are paid for through household energy bills – against calls from Conservative backbenchers to slash support by 25%.
Neil Parish, Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton, who signed the letter to the Prime Minister, said: "This report is notable only for its lack of credibility. It comes as no surprise to learn that two of three authors of this report are employees of GL Garrad Hassan, an energy company that specialises in wind energy.
"This report was written by wind energy companies for wind energy companies and completely ignores the communities and landscapes that are affected by wind farms."
But Merlin Hyman, chief executive of South West renewables campaign group Regen SW, said: "There are excellent resources here in the South West and onshore wind has a key role to play in meeting our energy needs.
"It makes sense to use local resources rather than importing fossil fuels and with the right business models, wind power can provide real benefits to local commun- ities and the local economy."
The report acknowledges that MPs in rural constituencies oppose wind farms, but adds: "At the same time, wider public opinion, which consistently and strongly supports wind power, should also be considered."
England's biggest wind farm, Fullabrook near Ilfracombe in North Devon, has polarised opinion but is now partially operational. And proposals for Davidstow in North Cornwall have infuriated locals.