The closure of the Vestas wind turbine factory in the Isle of Wight has highlighted the economic benefits of a vibrant wind energy industry and shown how nimbyism can stand in its way, the British Wind Energy Association said today

And, DECC secretary of state Ed Miliband has also voiced concerns

Advertisement

about planning delays being a factor in the Vestas decision. In

contrast, a councillor in North Dorset, which recently rejected

proposals for the Silton wind farm, has emphasised the public mistrust

about wind farms.

A spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) told NewEnergyFocus

that the publicity surrounding the closure of Vestas’ Isle of Wight

plant had outlined the issues for the general public. He said: “There

is now a direct correlation between nimbyism and the curtailment of the

economic benefits of wind power.”

The BWEA stance comes after

wind turbine manufacturer Vestas attempted, and failed, to obtain a

court’s permission to remove 20 workers currently occupying its Isle of

Wight factory, which is due to close this month.

The Danish

company announced in April that it would shut the turbine blade factory

in Newport, with the loss of 600 jobs, because the UK market was too

small to justify keeping the plant open – and the firm cited the UK’s

planning system, which sees many wind farm proposals rejected, as the

main obstacle to the growth of the market.

Employment

The

BWEA said that the headlines generated by the closure of the plant, the

ensuing strike and occupation, and the effects of the loss of 600 jobs

on the Isle of Wight economy will finally show the public that

opposition to wind farms in the planning system does impact on

employment.

The spokesman said: “A positive factor of this

unfortunate crisis is that the public are now aware of the fact that

the opposition to wind farms is affecting the economic opportunities

available to this country.”

He added that people had historically

been “ill-disposed towards wind”, as demonstrated during the 1990s,

when investors first began looking to put money in wind power, where

the slow planning system all but cut off investment in the industry.

The

Association considers that the UK must be especially aware of the

economic impact of the wind industry, when Round Three – the third

cycle of the government’s offshore wind programme – goes into planning.

Miliband

Meanwhile,

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband agreed that the

planning system was impeding the growth of the wind industry, blaming

Tory councils for blocking wind farm applications.

In a letter to Labour supporters, he said: “Their biggest difficulty

is with planning objections to onshore wind turbines, which have slowed

down the growth in the UK market. We are unlikely to be a centre for

onshore wind production if applications are consistently turned down.

Analysis in the Guardian on Monday reported that Tory councils have

blocked 70% of proposals for onshore wind schemes.”

Local authority

But

Brian Anderson, conservative councillor for North Dorset district

council, which recently voted to reject the 12MW Silton wind farm near

Gillingham, said that the public was not convinced of the efficiency of wind power.

“I’m

not sure about the efficiency of wind power, it needs to be proved to

the public, and at the moment the statistical evidence is not there.

That is the general feeling throughout the country, and unless the

government starts making all the decisions on wind farms, then I think

the trend will continue.”

He added: “I feel desperately sorry for

those 600 people on the Isle of Wight who have lost their jobs, but the

question is, would one of them want a wind turbine in their back yard?”

Vestas

Vestas was preparing for a second court hearing on August 4 2009 in an attempt to “gain possession of our own land”.

Vestas’ spokesman added: “At Vestas we are patient people, and this is an unfortunate situation for everyone.”

Announcement from our Chairman, David C BarclayThe World Renewable Energy Association are delighted to announce the launch of a brand-new initiative exclusively for its members. The Renewable Energy Finance Hub has been launched following the largest survey undertaken with UK businesses conducted by WoREA in conjunction with the UK Government and its partners. Reduce your businesses carbon footprint today and begin your journey towards net zero!