From the TUC

“Fossil” fuels wind controversy

22 Oct 2009, by in Environment

Skimming the papers today, I was confused there for a moment by a couple of news items. “Scientists claim fossil as missing link was really a dead end”. And then, “Tories  blown off course by Clarke’s windfarm verdict”.

Shadow Business Secretary, Ken Clarke, told the Policy Exchange yesterday that mainland Britain was “not suitable” for onshore windfarms. Sigh. Meanwhile, I read that Ida, the 47m-year-old primate, was not, after all, our earliest ancestor, but an evolutionary dead-end.

According to Ken, “Those few wild and open spaces that we have left in Britain should not be used for wind turbines.” Wind turbines should be built offshore.  As for poor Ida, the reputation of some of the world’s leading palaeontologists was at stake.

Later, Ken issued a “clarification”, that “I was expressing an off-the-cuff view as a layman, and not as party spokesperson on this subject. There is no change in Conservative Party Policy”. But surely, as Shadow BIS Secretary, Ken Clarke has responsibility for the Opposition’s approach to our Low Carbon Industrial Strategy?

Developing a UK wind industry is one of the ten low carbon industry sectors prioritised by the Governrment. Is this at risk? The UK’s Renewable Energy Strategy says that by 2020, “about 30% or more of all our electricity – both centralised and small-scale generation – could come from renewable sources, compared to around 5.5% today. We expect the majority of this growth to come from wind power, through the deployment of more onshore and offshore wind turbines.

One certainty about global warming is that thousands of species face an evolutionary dead end unless we tackle it now. Antedeluvian attitudes taking BIS back to an inactive industrial mindset? Or a serious commitment to renewable energy as the key to a low carbon future?