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UK: Tories to back wind farm protests

The Tories would change planning rules so central government could not overrule local objections to new wind farms, Michael Howard has said.

Amendments to planning laws meant local people's views were being ignored, the Conservative leader added.

He also said the government was relying too heavily on on-shore turbines to meet its green energy targets.

But energy minister Steven Timms said wind energy was "the most proven green source of electricity generation".

They can supply a "rising proportion of our energy needs" and most people are in favour of them, he added.

"Of course, wind farms like any development, will have local environmental impacts.

"But we have a robust planning system designed to ensure that the voices of local people and other stakeholders are heard and which allows us to take decisions which consider both national energy needs and local impacts," Mr Timms said.

But Mr Howard said: "Instead of listening to local concerns, Labour are determined to press ahead regardless."

"Their approach is creating conflict not consensus," he added.

'Shameful nimbyism'

TV botanist David Bellamy, who is backing the Conservative campaign, said of the wind turbines: "It is not green. It destroys the landscapes, it chops up birds, it chops up bats."

"Great chunks of concrete are put down into the floor," he added.

But Greenpeace energy campaigner Robin Oakley accused the Tories of "shameful nimbyism" saying it was "disgraceful" of Mr Howard to try to stop this vital solution to climate change.

"Wind power is the only technology ready to deliver clean energy on a massive scale.

"Every time a wind farm doesn't get built, it means more greenhouse gas pollution from the fossil fuel alternatives."

Nuclear option

Shadow environment secretary Tim Yeo said ministers had "bet everything on land-based wind farms".

"We do not believe that onshore wind should be the only show in town," he added.

But Mr Timms said that offshore tidal energy could contribute to the Britain's energy needs.

"Until those new technologies join wind, by becoming commercial, for now we are confident that wind can deliver," he added.

Prime minister Tony Blair recently said he was confident of meeting green energy targets of generating 10% of Britain's energy needs from renewable sources by 2010.

But, he said, Britain should not "shut the door" on the nuclear power as a source of renewable energy.

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