Environment minister welcomes all party support for wind power

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  By a Newsnet reporter

Scotland’s Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP has highlighted polling by You Gov which shows all-party support for wind power – as SNP Conference prepares to support WWF’s Earth Hour tonight – which this year focuses on renewable energy.

The new You Gov poll of 1003 Scottish adults shows that a majority of supporters of every party support wind power.

77% of SNP supporters, 76% of Lib Dem supporters, 68% of Labour supporters and 55% of Conservative supporters “support the continuing development of wind power as part of a mix of renewable and conventional forms of electricity generation.”

And a majority of the supporters of each party are also in favour of wind farm developments in their area. When asked if they would be for or against the development of large scale wind energy projects being built in their council area, 77% of SNP supporters, 71% of Liberal Democrat supporters, 64% of Labour supporters and 53% of Conservative supporters said they were in favour.

Many Conservative back-bench MPs are opposed to the expansion of wind farms, mainly on aesthetic grounds.  Opponents claim that wind farms are a blight on the landscape, spoil views, and may have a negative impact on property values.  However a number of studies appear to suggest that property values may only be affected if the property is immediately adjacent to a wind farm.  

Last year, opposition from Conservative MPs, mainly representing constituencies in southern England, led the UK government to cut the subsidy available for onshore wind farm development by 10%.  According to reports, the Treasury favoured an even greater cut, of 25%.  The UK government prefers to invest in the expansion of nuclear energy and the exploitation of shale gas.

Wind power in Scotland is the country’s fastest growing renewable energy technology, and the country possesses immense potential for this energy resource.

The Scottish government has committed to raising 100% of the country’s domestic energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, a target which Scotland is on track to meet.  The majority of this power will come from wind energy.

Some 11.5 GW of onshore wind potential exists in Scotland, enough to provide about 45 TWh of energy in a year, allowing for wind variability. More than double this amount exists on offshore sites where mean wind speeds are greater than on land. The total offshore potential is estimated at 25 GW.  Scotland’s wind resources represent 25% of the total capacity in Europe.

It is estimated that offshore wind farms could potentially generate as much as £30 billion for the Scottish economy and create as many as 20,000 jobs.

Commenting Mr Wheelhouse said:

“Earth Hour has been a great success across the world – with millions of people now supporting it every year – so it is appropriate that as it falls during SNP conference this year that the SNP Conference venue – Eden Court Theatre in Inverness – marks the event. Indeed I will be joining WWF Scotland for a Earth Hour quiz by candle-light in the Eden Court Theatre !

“And given that this year WWF have chosen the focus of Earth Hour to be renewable energy I am delighted that new You Gov polling shows cross-party support for wind energy. Even Tory supporters are in favour of wind power – clearly it is time for the Tory politicians to listen to their supporters.

“Scotland is a world leader in tackling climate change and a world leader in renewable energy. We face a global imperative to tackle climate change and how we power our economies is a key part of that. That is why we are pursuing a target for renewable energy to produce the equivalent of 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020, and why we are setting out our plans on how Scotland can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions over the years ahead.

“I urge all of Scotland to support WWF’s Earth Hour 2013.”