The renewable energy industry has hit back at a report claiming a "dramatic proliferation" of wind turbines is blighting the English countryside, warning "an unrepresentative minority using exaggerated statistics" should not be allowed to derail public support for the technology.
As many as nine in 10 people want more green power sources according to one YouGov survey, while a separate Ipsos Mori questionnaire found 68 per cent of respondents in rural areas were in favour of more wind power, compared to 66 per cent in cities.
But while a major new report
published today by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) acknowledges renewables must be part of a balanced energy mix, it says both landscapes and communities are threatened by up to 4,100 wind turbines of 30 metres or taller either operational, under construction, or in planning.
The wind industry says this figure is more than double the numbers actually proposed and accuses the CPRE of "scaremongering" by including offshore turbines in its list.
The CPRE is calling on the government to provide more clarity on the total number of onshore wind turbines it expects will be installed and wants the capacity of the landscape to accommodate wind turbines "without unacceptable damage" to be formally taken into account in planning decisions.
Trade body RenewableUK
said the CPRE's concerns were "misplaced", arguing that only 1,826 turbines are planned for England at present, as part of a total of 8,581 for the entire UK.
Dr Gordon Edge, RenewableUK's director of policy, stated -"The biggest threat to our valued landscapes is climate change.
Onshore wind is the cheapest source of low-carbon power, and restricting its development would jeopardise our firm commitment to offer value for money to the consumer, as well as green energy.
This view was echoed by Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth
, who pointed out the economic benefits arising from wind power.
"It's time to stop tilting at windmills and get on with the urgent task of building a clean British energy industry that will boost our economy, create jobs and save us all money,"
Tony Juniper, leading environmentalist and chair of Action for Renewables, a UK-wide campaign promoting renewable energy, added that the countryside had always been shaped by prevailing economic and social drivers and should not be "frozen" when it could help the UK deal with pressing environmental challenges.