Graphic: Wind farms owner dramatically shelves new projects in East Anglia
PUBLISHED: 09:41 27 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:00 27 November 2014
Onshore wind farms in East Anglia will be put on hold as one of the UK’s biggest green companies blames the government for making it impossible to build.
Ecotricity owner Dale Vince says a change of strategy means his 20-year-old company will no longer apply to build any new wind farms in England.
The Great Yarmouth-born entrepreneur says the government is interfering unfairly in the planning system and as a result his company is wasting millions of pounds on projects which are ultimately rejected.
“It’s a change of strategy which just shows that it’s become very difficult to get wind farms through planning in England because the goal posts keep moving – the government keep changing the target,” he said.
Ecotricity owns 60 turbines spread over 17 wind farms in the UK. There are three operating in Norfolk, one at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynnn has been approved and the Shipdham site is in the planning process.
Mr Vince criticised the communities secretary Eric Pickles’ approach to green energy, saying it is a political tactic to stop Conservative voters switching to Ukip.
“The rules are being changed every few months in terms of planning, environmental assessments and financial support,” he said.
Ecotricity’s vision for two 100m turbines between the mid Norfolk villages of Shipdham and Bradenham have been long-running and a subject of contention.
The plans were first put forward 13 years ago and since there have been four public inquiries into the scheme.
Mr Pickles turned down the plans in September following the advice of a planning inspector – but Ecotricity have chosen to appeal that decision which is on-going.
And although Mr Vince said the government’s reaction to wind farms is only temporary – he did concede he does not know how long that could mean.
“They [the government] are simply shutting it down. They are changing planning, cutting support, closing companies down,” Mr Vince said.
“David Cameron promised to run the greenest every government, but he is doing quite the opposite.”
Ecotricity currently has six projects in the planning in England and six ready to be built.
But communities minister Kris Hopkins hit back at Mr Vince’s comments. He said: “These comments from a wind farm developer are simply wrong. Inappropriately sited wind turbines can be a blight on the landscape, harming the local environment and damaging heritage for miles around. This government has intentionally and transparently changed official planning guidance and appeal rules to ensure that these issues are better taken into account. We make no apologies for listening to public concern and giving local communities a greater say.”
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