UK to outflank objectors with wind farms in Ireland

 

A A A

Ministers are investigating a proposal to outsource the production of wind power to Ireland.

Faced with fervent and growing opposition to onshore wind farms in the UK, Tory MPs are backing a plan to site those facilities in Ireland – and then export the renewable energy generated back to Britain using cables running under the Irish Sea, to Wales.

A company has already sourced land to build more than 700 turbines in countryside to the west of Dublin. They would have the capacity to supply power for more than three million homes by the end of the decade – the equivalent of 10 per cent of the UK's renewable energy targets.

More importantly, such a development could take the pressure off the need for many more wind farms in the British countryside and save David Cameron from the wrath of his backbenchers who are in revolt at the Government's current plans. The scheme, called Greenwire, is the brainchild of an American company called Element Power.

It says it has already got the backing of the Irish government for its scheme, which could be up and running by 2018.

It says the Irish have a less reactionary attitude to onshore wind turbine developments than the British and points out that it would provide significant economic developments to the republic, while solving the UK Government's political conundrum. "From the Tory side, this is something that addresses their concerns about further onshore wind farm development, while at the same time bringing them closer to green growth," said Mike O'Neill, the president of Element Power. "And in Ireland people appear to be less concerned about the construction of wind farms and place greater emphasis on the economic growth they can bring."

So far the sticking point appears to be the need for British ministers to agree with their Irish counterparts that renewable energy generated in Ireland can count towards the UK's renewable energy targets.

Earlier this year the Irish Energy Minister, Pat Rabbitte, and his UK counterpart, Charles Hendry, agreed a formal Memorandum of Understanding on renewable energy trading between the two countries to be in place by the end of the year. Such an agreement would need to be written into the Energy Bill currently going through Parliament.

The company has met Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, and this week will meet a series of Tory ministers and MPs to press its case.

Coalition tensions over green issues have increased since last month's reshuffle. Owen Patterson, who has campaigned against wind farms in his own constituency, is believed to have clashed with Mr Davey on Coalition policy.

It comes after more than 100 Conservative backbenchers wrote to the Prime Minister earlier this year demanding he "dramatically cut" the £400m in annual subsidies paid to onshore wind developers.

But what is yet untested is the reaction of the Irish people to the plan. Wind may be an unlimited resource but the countryside is not and some experts predict resentment of what could be perceived as a fresh British land-grab.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - OTE £37,000

£16000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidate will want t...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician / Helpdesk - 2nd / 3rd Line

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Application Developer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in the centre of Glasgow,...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada