County falling behind on energy quota

SUFFOLK is falling behind the rest of the Eastern region in fulfilling its onshore renewable energy quota, it has been revealed.A report prepared for Suffolk County Council's Environment, Waste Management and Economic development scrutiny committee has highlighted the 'embarrassing' extent of the issue.

SUFFOLK is falling behind the rest of the Eastern region in fulfilling its onshore renewable energy quota, it has been revealed.

A report prepared for Suffolk County Council's Environment, Waste Management and Economic development scrutiny committee has highlighted the 'embarrassing' extent of the issue.

This year, 10pc of the East of England's electricity is expected to come from renewable sources and by 2020 the target is 17pc. But Suffolk is not pulling its weight in terms of contributing to that target, figures show.

Despite a start being made on the construction of the huge Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm in February, the county is not up to scratch in terms of its onshore renewable energy generation.


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It is behind Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Bedfordshire, with only Hertfordshire generating less at 10.80mw.

As of June 2009, of the 441mw of electricity produced in East Anglia, Suffolk was responsible for just 38.3mw, compared with 154mw generated in Cambridgeshire and 101mw in Essex.

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The report notes that the number of applications turned down through the planning process is very high. Adam Bell, national campaign co-ordinator for Renewable UK, urged people to keep an open mind to the idea of more wind turbines in the county.

'There remains a significant problem gaining planning approval,' he said. 'We are concerned about this. We are trying to encourage the 80% of people who support wind energy to speak up and make sure politicians realise the broad level of support for wind farms.'

People tended to object when there was the prospect of a turbine being built near their property, because of fears over house prices.

'We have found house prices do tend to drop a bit when the planning application is going through. But once it has been approved and the turbine is built the prices rise again to their original levels as people realise they are not that bad,' he added.

But Matt Hullis, specialist leader in environment strategy at Suffolk County Council, said it was not all bad news. Three wind turbines have been approved by Waveney District Council on the Bernard Matthews site at Upper Holton, near Halesworth, and there has been a recent application submitted for three new turbines on Eye airfield.

'Suffolk as a county isn't delivering as much (renewable energy) as some other counties in the region,' he said. 'The figures speak for themselves. Although we are bottom of the table at the moment, the difference isn't great.

'We need to produce the energy we need in a more renewable way. We are going to have to look at how we generate energy in the future but in a way that doesn't damage people's quality of life and it's difficult to do.

'It's a great opportunity but wind energy is only part of the solution.'

The scrutiny committee will consider the information and advise the county council's cabinet on what measures need to be taken to boost performance in line with targets.

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