The government has announced that a national policy statement for planners on renewable energy is due out this autumn.

The statement is set to follow the end of the government’s 12-week consultation on renewable energy expansion, which was launched today by business secretary John Hutton. The proposed Infrastructure Planning Commission – which won a narrow approval of 40 votes by MPs in the Commons last night - will put in place powers for large onshore wind projects (above 50MW) and offshore (above 100 MW) against the policy statement.

Targets suggested by the EU will see the UK have to produce 15 per cent of its renewable energy by 2020. Today, the government said this would mean a further 4,000 onshore turbines to add to the 2,000 already deployed. It is also estimated the total output from wind energy could rise to 28GW in 2020, from 2GW in 2006.

Environmental groups have welcomed the move. Tony Burton, National Trust director of strategy and external affairs said "The renewables revolution will transform the face of energy production. It demands dramatic changes to the way we use our homes, hills, soils and sea to harness wind, water, solar and geothermal energy.

"Securing public consent for such far reaching changes to our lives and our landscapes will demand greater respect for the local environment and local communities.” The RSPB said the proposals should revolutionise energy generation without causing environmental harm or penalising the poor.

Ruth Davis, head of climate change policy at the RSPB, said: “The RSPB is passionate about renewable energy, in the right place and with the right rewards for those who help produce it. “We are delighted with the government’s fresh ideas to tackle climate change which must be backed with gritty determination. But the Liberal Democrats were dismissive.

Liberal Democrat shadow environment secretary, Steve Webb said: “With Britain lagging near the bottom of the European renewables league table, it is hard to believe Gordon Brown’s talk of a ‘green revolution’.

“The fundamental problem is that Brown doesn’t do ‘green’. He would rather urge oil producers to extract more oil than invest in technologies that will actually save CO2 emissions now.

“When the government has failed so lamentably to take a political lead in the last 11 years, why should we believe the coming years will be any different?”


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