From the TUC

Not NOW, please!

20 Apr 2012, by in Environment

Poor start for NOW, the new anti-renewables campaign, launching its batty Charter on the same day a new poll showed two-thirds of the public support wind farms! With so many people out of work or forced into part-time jobs, it’s galling that NOW claims “there’s no evidence that wind farms bring significant local employment.” In truth, tens of thousands are employed in wind power projects. The Renewable Energy Association has a new report out next Tuesday with the facts: we won’t break their embargo, but look for the new data on the jobs growth, skills created, export opportunities, turnover, revenues to the Treasury, and annual growth rates an example to any Chancellor.

On the National Opposition to Windfarms (NOW) website you can register your support by ticking a box, but not your opposition!

NOW says: “No developer will build windfarms without subsidies.” True. But the batty Charter’s neo-liberal economist forgets that fossil fuels get four times the renewables’ subsidy of £1.4bn a year. We support the UK fossil fuel industry by £3,63bn a year, mostly in the form of VAT breaks. Osborne has just announced £3bn more in tax breaks to support North Sea oil and gas exploration.

Who leads NOW? Step forward founder Baron Carlile of Berriew, Alexander Charles Carlile, a barrister and previously a Liberal Democrat MP. Yet energy Minister Greg Barker says there had been an ‘unbalanced’ approach to the controversial turbines and vowed there would be no significant expansion of farms.

As NOW well knows, the renewables industry is held back by policy uncertainty created by the now Liberal and Conservative consensus that loathes any form of public support to get new industries going. As next week’s report will show, vested political and industrial interests are devilling away at investor confidence.

The hard economic reality is this – as Anjum has blogged :

  • UK lost over 400,000 manufacturing jobs in the past four years.
  • Construction lost 281,000 jobs over the same period.

NOW doesn’t appear to understand that every wind farm project creates jobs and skills for the UK. It has to assess the impact the development will have on the environment as part of its planning application. This doesn’t include just its impact on local ecosystems, but on heritage sites, on landscapes and other forms of amenity. This is balanced against the contribution the wind farm can make to our need for sustainable supplies of clean power. NOW cites a single study that finds wind farms have a limited impact on the nesting grounds of some species of birds as evidence for the sweeping statement that wind farms ‘kill birds and compromise wildlife habitats’. This stands in stark contrast to a joint report from RSPB, Greenpeace and WWF – all of whom support appropriately sited wind farms.

Under former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, around 10,000 onshore turbines were planned in order to meet EU targets, with thousands more planned offshore.

But a source close to the Department for Energy and Climate Change said of the Minister’s comemnts, there was ‘no U-turn on wind farms’, adding: ‘This is not a change in policy.’