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Published on February 2nd, 2012 | by Nick Doyle
Image © "The renewables industry is ready to invest but it requires the infrastructure to be in place.  Delays cost money." These are the words of Cary Connoll, head of the Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group.  In a piece that ran in The Mirror today he bemoaned the relatively lackluster implementation of renewable energy infrastructure within the UK.  Renewable energy clearly represents a step in the right direction for this country (and arguably globally) in so many aspects.  For one it creates jobs, both skilled and un-skilled; it also reduces the dependency the UK has on foreign imports of energy resources and ultimately (and arguably most importantly) it provides green energy for the country that is sustainable and less polluting.  These are the facts and they are widely known but why then is there such a lack of implementation?  I refer primarily to wind turbines in this example as this is the technology that is most available and most advanced at the moment to provide a real alternative to non-renewable energy types.  One might be thinking that in part it is because the Government has not promoted the issue as much as it should have and there certainly is a case for this.  Although there has been a lot of talk in this area in terms of hard legislation and immovable goals the politics of renewable energy is relatively unstable.  Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that it is a long-term issue and crucially far more long-term than the average political cycle; but just recently we have seen Government commit to HS2 - a project that may well outlast several political cycles by the time it is complete. Nor can we blame business for this deluge.  Samsung recently committed 100million pounds of funds towards wind turbines in Fife creating 500 jobs and many other companies (Dell, Gamesa, BNY Mellon, State Street, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard and Mitsubishi Powers Systems) have announced similar plans to invest in clean energy in Scotland specifically.  This clearly is then not the private sector's fault. Instead it seems the threat comes from a far more mundane source; you - and more specifically your local council.  ME? you cry, yes you.  Because ultimately you have fallen silent on the issue.  In a time of economic decline, high unemployment, changes in welfare reform and Chris Huhne, the public have more important things to worry about than where energy comes from.  In fact since 2006 there has been a 10% drop in those that are convinced that climate change is really happening.  That may not sound a great deal but that is 7 million people and more importantly 7 million voters.  This is a problem that is not apparent in Scotland because of Salmond's constant re-affirmament of the issue but we cannot simply blame Parliament for this issue. I hate to use NIMBY but here I think it applies fittingly.  Undoubtedly the majority of people would agree our dependence on renewable energy has to increase; but this is not a debate.  It is in fact a shouting match with those in the minority shouting loudest and causing failures of projects all over the country such as those at  Anglesey, Saxby Wold and even on Honda's own industrial park in Swindon - and those are all the rejections just from today. Most of these complaints come down the either spoiling views or the noise that they make; both surely small prices to pay in the face of blighting out environment for eternity and energy prices rising beyond the already unsustainable levels they threaten now.  The constant hum of a motorway, flightpath or railway is the price you pay for an extensive travel network so why should this be different? Today the  Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: "We are at the dawn of a new era...it's important we realise the full potential that this opportunity presents".  Truer worlds are rarely spoken in politics.

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Wind Power – The Curse of Good Deeds

“The renewables industry is ready to invest but it requires the infrastructure to be in place.  Delays cost money.”

These are the words of Cary Connoll, head of the Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group.  In a piece that ran in The Mirror today he bemoaned the relatively lackluster implementation of renewable energy infrastructure within the UK.  Renewable energy clearly represents a step in the right direction for this country (and arguably globally) in so many aspects.  For one it creates jobs, both skilled and un-skilled; it also reduces the dependency the UK has on foreign imports of energy resources and ultimately (and arguably most importantly) it provides green energy for the country that is sustainable and less polluting.  These are the facts and they are widely known but why then is there such a lack of implementation?  I refer primarily to wind turbines in this example as this is the technology that is most available and most advanced at the moment to provide a real alternative to non-renewable energy types.  One might be thinking that in part it is because the Government has not promoted the issue as much as it should have and there certainly is a case for this.  Although there has been a lot of talk in this area in terms of hard legislation and immovable goals the politics of renewable energy is relatively unstable.  Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that it is a long-term issue and crucially far more long-term than the average political cycle; but just recently we have seen Government commit to HS2 – a project that may well outlast several political cycles by the time it is complete.

Nor can we blame business for this deluge.  Samsung recently committed 100million pounds of funds towards wind turbines in Fife creating 500 jobs and many other companies (Dell, Gamesa, BNY Mellon, State Street, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard and Mitsubishi Powers Systems) have announced similar plans to invest in clean energy in Scotland specifically.  This clearly is then not the private sector’s fault.

Instead it seems the threat comes from a far more mundane source; you – and more specifically your local council.  ME? you cry, yes you.  Because ultimately you have fallen silent on the issue.  In a time of economic decline, high unemployment, changes in welfare reform and Chris Huhne, the public have more important things to worry about than where energy comes from.  In fact since 2006 there has been a 10% drop in those that are convinced that climate change is really happening.  That may not sound a great deal but that is 7 million people and more importantly 7 million voters.  This is a problem that is not apparent in Scotland because of Salmond’s constant re-affirmament of the issue but we cannot simply blame Parliament for this issue.

I hate to use NIMBY but here I think it applies fittingly.  Undoubtedly the majority of people would agree our dependence on renewable energy has to increase; but this is not a debate.  It is in fact a shouting match with those in the minority shouting loudest and causing failures of projects all over the country such as those at  Anglesey, Saxby Wold and even on Honda’s own industrial park in Swindon – and those are all the rejections just from today. Most of these complaints come down the either spoiling views or the noise that they make; both surely small prices to pay in the face of blighting out environment for eternity and energy prices rising beyond the already unsustainable levels they threaten now.  The constant hum of a motorway, flightpath or railway is the price you pay for an extensive travel network so why should this be different?

Today the  Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: “We are at the dawn of a new era…it’s important we realise the full potential that this opportunity presents”.  Truer worlds are rarely spoken in politics.

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