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UK: Wind energy becalmed by the Nimbys

THE Government will fail to hit its target of generating 10% of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2010, senior industry figures have told Financial Mail on Sunday.

Wind farm developers say the target cannot be achieved within the timetable because of long delays in winning planning approvals. At present, just over 3% of electricity is powered by wind.

Opposition has been growing to onshore wind farms. High-profile campaigns against giant wind turbines - some twice the size of Nelson's Column - have made it more difficult to get planning permission.

The strong opposition includes Conservative leader Michael Howard, who has campaigned against plans for a wind farm at Romney Marsh in his Kent constituency.

Prince Charles is reported to have described the farms as 'a horrendous blot on the landscape'.

Jason Scagel, a director of E.ON Energie, the German utility giant that owns Powergen, said the 2010 target was under threat because of Nimbyism.

He was speaking at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, just two miles from Scrowby Sands, the site of E.ON's new wind farm.

He said: 'The 2010 target is certainly challenging. It's very difficult to overcome the problems of Nimbyism.

'Most people are in favour of wind farms, but there are problems from the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and a growing number of fishermen, and these are causing delays.'

Ironically, he also said there were inevitable hold-ups caused by bad weather when building offshore wind farms in windy locations.

The £75m Scrowby Sands development, with 30 wind turbines, is capable of powering up to 41,000 homes. It took two years to win permission for it.

However, wind farm schemes costing about £250m and capable of providing power for 200,000 homes have had the go-ahead in Scotland and Wales.

A spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association said: 'We talk to all groups who have reservations about wind power, but this year there has been a surge in activity and 30 developments have been approved.'

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