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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
Brian Anderson, conservative councillor for North Dorset district
council, which recently voted to reject the 12MW Silton wind farm near
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 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.”