Beauty spots could become wind farms

Ed Miliband didn't rule out building wind farms on Areas of Outstanding National Beauty
Ed Miliband didn't rule out building wind farms on Areas of Outstanding National Beauty

By Alice Cannet

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) like the Lake District national park could be the sites of new energy infrastructure including wind farms, Ed Miliband has suggested.

Asked if wind farms could be considered in AONBs, Mr Miliband said: "In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible for some limited development to take place without unacceptable impacts on these important sites."

The energy and climate change secretary commented on the Campaign to Protect Rural England's (CPRE) new blog in a response to a list of questions on energy, climate change and landscape.

CPRE had invited the public to visit their blog to participate in the debate. The new blog enabled voters to ask Mr Miliband questions which he will answer by the end of the month.

Mr Miliband was asked to clarify his position on wind farms after he said it should "be socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area - like not wearing a seatbelt or driving past a zebra crossing."

In a new statement on CPRE's blog, Mr Miliband moved away from his former stance, saying "there are some places where wind farms may not be suitable".

CPRE contested the government's promise to cut down greenhouse gas emissions after it did not rule out coal mining, a huge source of emissions, adding pressure on Mr Miliband to justify this.

Ed Miliband explained in his reply that coal mines could remain provided they were "environmentally acceptable" but shifted the responsibility on the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which is in charge of planning applications for new coal mining sites.

He said: "There is a value to the country in maintaining access to coal reserves, as long as it's environmentally acceptable, and this can include shallow coals suitable for surface mining."

There were ten questions to the climate and climate change secretary on the blog and CPRE's chief executive, Shaun Spiers, insisted: "These questions aren't going to go away. They are asked every time a new wind farm is proposed."

"And communities asked to accept intrusive new renewable energy infrastructure such as wind farms will ask how serious the government is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions when it is still prepared to allow carbon intensive opencast mining."

On wind farms, Mr Piers said: "Onshore wind farms have a role to play - but only where they will not cause unacceptable damage to the countryside and where they have been subject to proper democratic planning scrutiny.

Mr Piers concluded: "We see this blog as the start of a discussion with the government on these very important issues."

Mr Miliband's department will publish a renewable energy strategy this summer which will set out estimates figures for onshore wind farms contribution to total renewable energy production.


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