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Energy review protests continue

[Thursday 13 July 2006]

AS WE predicted on Tuesday (see news July 11), the debate over Britain's future energy needs has produced even more protests - and some from unexpected quarters.

Countryside has part to play in energy provision

The review, submitted to Parliament yesterday, cleared the path for the development of new nuclear powers stations and more on-shore windfarms - moves which had been widely anticipated - but included a bombshell: planning permission for these will be subject to "fast track" procedures which could drastically reduce the rights of local people to protest.

This has caused widespread alarm amongst environmental bodies and one of them, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - the largest conservation organisation in Europe - announced that it would "vigorously oppose" any developments which would threaten important wildlife sites.

The review has put the RSPB in a difficult position because its long-term policy has been to support "green" energy generation - but the review has made it fearful that onshore windfarms in coastal areas, particularly in Scotland, could kill thousands of seabirds.

Another, more unexpected, voice of opposition came from farmers and landowners who expressed disappointment that the review did not attach more importance to the potential of generating energy from "biomass" sources - i.e., from farm crops.

The countryside has a great deal to offer to ensure security of supply and sustainable energy for the long term

Douglas Chalmers - CLA

Countries throughout the world are experimenting with ways of generating electricity from vegetable materials and - almost as important - the production of diesel-type transport fuels from crops like oil seed rape.

The Country Land and Business Association's northern area director, Douglas Chalmers, pointed out that the European Environment Agency has estimated that we could generate 16% of our total energy supply from biomass crops.

"The countryside has a great deal to offer to ensure security of supply and sustainable energy for the long term," he added.

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