Wind power flop blamed on Sir Bernard Ingham

Geoffrey Lean
Sunday 06 December 1998 00:02 GMT

WIND POWER is on the verge of collapse in Britain and Sir Bernard Ingham, Baroness Thatcher's former press secretary, is being blamed.

Ministers are trying to revive the industry after repeated refusals by local authorities and planning inspectors to allow wind turbines. No large schemes have won planning permission in three years, although Britain has the most suitable winds in Europe for turning into energy. The Government wants 10 per cent of Britain's power from renewable sources by 2010.

Keith Henry, chief executive of National Power, has written to John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, saying his firm, which owns Britain's biggest wind power company, may have to pull out. Since 1993 planners have refused 16 of 18 wind farm applications. Before then, he says, there were 12 planning enquiries, nine supporting wind power. National Power blames Sir Bernard, who set up an anti-wind power group, Country Guardian, in the early 1990s.

Last week South Lakeland District Council refused permission for a wind farm because of the scenic impact. Last month Mr Prescott backed a planning decision to stop what would have been Britain's largest wind farm, near Barningham, Co Durham.

Mr Prescott said the Government was "looking more and more to wind" to reduce global warming, adding: "If we could get 10 Bernard Inghams we would not need wind farms."

Sir Bernard hit back with: "What a man! Ministers didn't come like that in my time."

He said being blamed for halting wind power was "the greatest accolade that has been paid to me in a long time".

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