U.K. plans to boost offshore wind, wave, tidal power

The United Kingdom has published new plans to streamline the development of offshore wind, wave, and tidal power projects, while still protecting wildlife, as part of the fight against global warming.

The white paper policy document, which is open for public consultation until June, proposes a strategic marine planning system to set national objectives and priorities for offshore developments.

“Protecting our seas is one of the biggest environmental challenges after climate change and the two are closely linked,” Environment Secretary David Miliband said March 13. “The proposals in the Marine Bill White Paper are a first for the U.K. and would raise planning for the management and protection of our seas to a world-leading level.”

The proposal also aims to speed up the marine licensing process and create a new oversight body, the Marine Management Organization, to ensure that proposals for wind and wave power developments are in the right place and do not threaten wildlife.

U.K. targets 60 percent cut in carbon emissions

The European Union has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and Britain set out plans March 13 to put into law a target of a 60 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. (HNN 3/9/07)

However, the carbon-free energy resources along the coast involve hazards for wildlife — large barrages for harnessing tidal power can affect fish and wind turbines have been blamed for killing migrating birds.

Marine minister: �Push harder on wave, tidal power�

Marine Minister Ben Bradshaw told the British Wind Energy Association’s 4th annual marine energy conference the government wants more and faster offshore power developments.

“We need to push harder on wave and tidal power,” he said. “The wind may not always blow, but the tides are always strong and regular.”

Keith Anderson, renewables director at utility ScottishPower, said the industry has the potential to be as big as the North Sea oil and gas industry but that it needs much more government cash to start real developments.

“The United Kingdom has a lead, but others are catching up fast,” he told the conference. “As with all new technologies, there is an urgent need for start-up capital.”

He urged the government to expand the national electricity grid and make it far easier for renewable energy schemes to connect to it.

Bradshaw replied that a Planning White Paper due this month would clear away restrictive red tape that currently stalls major infrastructure projects like road, out-of-town retail, and power station projects.

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