Skip to main content

Wind Power

Volume 523: debated on Thursday 10 February 2011

3. What estimate he has made of the level of (a) onshore and (b) offshore wind generating capacity in 2020. (39410)

Modelling undertaken for the Department in 2009 suggested that the UK could have about 14 GW of onshore wind and 13 GW of offshore wind generating capacity in 2020.

The Government do not set targets for individual technologies; we take a market-based approach to energy generation. The actual amount of capacity that comes forward, and the timing, will depend on a range of factors, including how the market responds to the incentives that we have put in place.

My constituency has at Burton Latimer a successful wind farm that is soon to expand, but my constituents would like to see greater incentives from the coalition Government to encourage offshore wind energy, and rather reduced incentives for onshore wind farms, because we do not want the English countryside despoiled by hundreds of wind farms all over the place.

My hon. Friend makes an important point, with which a significant number of colleagues in the House agree. There was a democratic deficit in the way the policy was driven forward in the past, and we want to move on from the hectoring approach that the previous Administration took. There do need to be appropriate incentives; wind farms should be put in place in the appropriate locations; and a banding review of the ROC—renewables obligation certificate—regime is coming forward this year, when we can look at those issues.

Ports are a reserved matter. How are the Government enabling Welsh ports to participate in the offshore industry, and to what extent and in what way are they working with the Welsh Assembly Government?

We took a view that the best way for the funding to go forward was through an economic generation programme linked specifically to manufacturing projects, meaning that it ceased to be a ports programme and became an economic development matter. Funding was allocated through the Barnett formula to the Welsh Assembly Government for them to take forward their own programmes in the area, and we have also asked the Crown Estate to work with ports throughout the United Kingdom to see how they can all benefit from the renaissance.

Given the huge obvious potential in the sector, the Minister will understand the renewable energy sector’s natural impatience to know how the green investment bank is progressing and whether the Department is receiving the necessary support that it looks for from the Treasury. Given that potential, can he update us on how things are progressing towards May? Big sites, such as Nigg and Kishorn in my constituency, are really looking to the Government for a lead.

My right hon. Friend picks up on an issue that is of great interest across the House. We are making good progress on the discussions about a green investment bank, and an announcement will be made shortly. We see this as a fundamental building block for bringing new investment into an area which is a massive driver for economic growth and recovery in this country.

The Government have very warm intentions for community engagement through the Localism Bill, although The Daily Telegraph has today rather cruelly portrayed it as “bribes for windfarms”. Mike Landy, who is very well respected and has 25 years of experience of renewables internationally, says:

“It is hard to see how the UK’s target of 15% renewable energy by 2020 can be achieved without a significant contribution from onshore wind. The localism bill has all the makings of a NIMBY Charter...there is a distinct danger we could be heading towards BANANA—Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything”.

So I have a straightforward question: what will be the average time taken for an onshore wind farm application by the end of this Government?

We are determined to stop the top-down approach that was taken by the previous Administration. We believe it is imperative that local communities should have an active engagement in the siting of big facilities in their communities, and the changes we are making will give them greater discretion. We will stop the regional spatial targets and strategies, but put in place significant benefits so that communities can see how they benefit from hosting a facility on behalf of the national interest instead of seeing it as something that is imposed on them, as at present.