Britain, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man sign deal on renewables

Ministers from Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man yesterday signed a deal to work together to exploit the region’s wind and marine energy resources.

The ‘All Islands Approach’ aims to help and encourage developers to make the most of the commercial opportunities for generation of transmission of local renewable energy.

The co-operation should also increase the integration of the different regional markets and help improve security of supply.

“There is a massive potential source of clean, green, secure energy that remains untapped in the Irish Sea and onshore in Ireland, as well as around the Channel Islands,” says UK Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry. “But because Ireland’s energy demand is only slightly larger than that of Yorkshire and Humberside, there has been little incentive to exploit the resource.”

Better interconnection between the regions would allow surplus wind energy, for example, to be sold to Ireland and mainland Europe, as well as enabling electricity imports when needed.

“Optimising the natural renewable resource available around our islands would benefit us all. It makes much more sense to develop and share clean, green, secure energy with our neighbours than import vast amounts of fossil fuels from far flung parts of the world,” adds Hendry.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government issued a new tool for developers yesterday that calculates more accurately the carbon savings generated by onshore wind farms.

“The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target for all of Scotland’s electricity needs to come from renewables by 2020. That target is achievable but maintaining the current momentum is just not enough – we need to go further and faster to deploy all forms of renewables, onshore and offshore,” said Energy Minister Fergus Ewing at a wind energy conference in Glasgow.

Developers will have to use the carbon calculator when applying for planning permission for new wind developments and authorities will commit to taking it into account when making planning decisions.

“It will encourage developers to design schemes that minimise losses of carbon from peat,” Ewing explained. “The visual impact of wind farms is [also] a key consideration in planning and designing a wind farm,” he added.

As well as assessing the environmental and visual impacts of onshore wind farms, the Scottish Government also want to see local communities more involved in developments.

But the Welsh Assembly Government is calling on Whitehall to respect its decisions on where onshore wind development should take place.

“Our policy [TAN 8] seeks to restrict the proliferation of large scale wind farms across the whole of Wales and focuses on [seven] strategic search areas,” First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said in a written statement yesterday.

“In our view, the TAN 8 capacities should be regarded as upper limits and we call upon UK Government to respect this position when they finalise the Renewable Energy National Policy Statement and to not allow proliferation when they take decisions on individual projects in Wales,” he added.

The Welsh authorities are objecting to the potential use of large pylons to carry excess electricity from wind farms in the region to the rest of the UK.

“This situation amply illustrates why consents for major energy infrastructure projects must be devolved to Wales. We cannot accept a position where decisions made outside Wales will lead to inappropriate development for the people of Wales,” concluded Jones.

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Related stories:
Renewables could provide 35% of UK’s energy by 2020 (13-Jun)
New Scottish Government pledges 100% renewable electricity by 2020 (19-May)
Marine energy could net UK economy £76 billion by 2050 (3-May)
New legislation to boost renewables in Northern Ireland (23-Mar)

21 June 2011