Ed Miliband – Question 2
Many CPRE members were concerned by your reported comments that it should be ‘socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area – like not wearing your seatbelt or driving past a zebra crossing’? Do you believe local communities have a legitimate role to protect valued local landscapes from damaging energy infrastructure? Or does the seriousness of climate change mean central Government will increasingly overrule local decisions?
Local communities do have an important role. In fact, we’re changing the rules for nationally significant infrastructures so developers have to consult the community before they even submit an application. And I agree that there are some places where wind farms may not be suitable.
The point I was making was just that we do need to think about our attitudes to wind farms. It’s not about overruling local decisions but making the case: the biggest threat to our countryside is not the wind turbine, it is climate change. As the RSPB said, “climate change is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, threats facing wildlife over the next 100 years.”
To head off that threat, we need all the low-carbon power we can get. We should build wind offshore, and in fact we have more offshore wind power now than any other country in the world. But the scale of the change is such that we need onshore too. Together, it can make a big difference: last year enough power for all the electricity for the equivalent of two million homes came from wind power.