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Whitehall is told to cut red tape for wind farms

Daily Telegraph: Whitehall is told to cut red tape for wind farms

“Sita Dickson, of Shell International, said… Shell was keen to see “better, joined-up Government”.

By Richard Tyler (Filed: 18/08/2004)

The Cabinet Office has intervened in the commissioning of offshore wind farms in an attempt to speed up the process.

The move has been requested by Shell and is backed by the British Wind Energy Association and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The industry is keen to avoid the bureaucracy that has delayed planning applications for onshore wind farms by more than three times the official target.

It feels the myriad government departments involved with offshore farms could communicate more effectively.

The plan is for the Cabinet Office’s business regulation team – which has the support of the Prime Minister – to draw up rules of engagement and act as an “honest broker” between the interest groups.

Ian Morfett, who leads the team, said: “You have a wide range of interested parties here. Defra were struggling to make sense of all that and they came to the business regulation team for help. We have been developing best practice guidelines for all the bodies.”

The Government hopes to generate 10pc of the country’s electricity needs from renewable energy by the end of the decade, growing to 15pc by 2015, with about a third of that coming from wind power.

Earlier this month, the BWEA warned that unless the planning process was speeded up, it was likely the 2010 target would not be met.

The Government has since issued new guidance for local planning officials to clarify how they should deal with onshore wind farm proposals.

Planning consent for offshore farms remains the joint responsibility of Defra and the Department of Trade and Industry. English Nature and its Scottish and Welsh equivalents are consulted as are environmental and animal welfare interest groups.

Within government, the Department of Transport and the Ministry of Defence have a say. The MoD has blocked hundreds of onshore wind farm applications because of concerns the turbines interfere with radar coverage.

The Crown Estate, which is the landlord to the seabed, awarded the first 18 offshore wind farm leases in 2001.

So far only 34 wind turbines are generating power. There are two, 1km off the coast of Blythe Harbour, Northumberland, another two at Scroby Sands, near Great Yarmouth, Norfork, and 30 at North Hoyle, off Prestatyn, North Wales.

Sita Dickson, of Shell International, said her company was happy to engage with “the whole host” of government agencies involved in the planning process.

But she said Shell was keen to see “better, joined-up Government”.

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