Greens say wind power must be kept away from beauty spots

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The Independent Online

The Greens yesterday came out against the siting of wind farms on natural beauty spots, saying locations such as the Devon coastline and Loch Ness were under threat.

The Greens yesterday came out against the siting of wind farms on natural beauty spots, saying locations such as the Devon coastline and Loch Ness were under threat.

The Government was instead urged to consider a range of alternatives, including disused RAF bases or off-shore sites. Speaking on the second day of the Green Party's annual conference in Weston-super-Mare, Dr Spencer Fitz-Gibbons said: "There is a risk that these wind farms could be put in entirely inappropriate places. They should not be building just anywhere."

While alternative energy sources produce only three per cent of Britain's electricity, the Government is planning to boost this to 10 per cent by 2010. There are now 1,125 working turbines with a combined 772.4 megawatt capacity.

The Green Party warning came as Gamesa Energy UK, a renewable energy developer, announced plans to build wind farms across the country. The Spanish company already has plans for 400 megawatts in Wales and hopes to add another 1,600 total megawatt capacity across Britain. It is aiming to have as many as five wind farms operating in Wales within the next two years.

Speaking the day after the official opening of its UK headquarters in Newport South Wales, Matt Partridge, development director of the Gamesa Energy UK, said: "Regular reports into global renewable energy markets show the UK has been near or at the top for the last 18 months. It has the best wind resources and there is strong political backing."

However, the Green Party was not a lone voice in expressing concerns about the expansion of wind farms. A study in Country Life magazine examined areas of outstanding beauty that are believed to be under threat.

These included four sites in the Wiltshire Downs, a five-mile square area of countryside in Whinash, near the Lake District, and 1,000 acres in Romney Marsh in Kent, where 27 windmills are facing opposition from residents.

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