Public support for renewables ‘on a knife-edge’

Farming needs to engage with the government to counter Nimbyism, as support for renewables is “on a knife-edge”.

There is no doubt there is overwhelming public support for renewable energy, said Tim Croker from the NFU’s Farm Energy Service. However, farmers are increasingly finding it difficult to get permission for new projects.

This is down to a whole range of issues, but Nimbyism is one of the most difficult barriers for large-scale renewables projects, he said speaking at the NFU Conference 2013

“At the moment, we’re on a knife edge,” said Jonathan Selwyn, managing director of Lark Energy.

He said MP Greg Barker did not have his priorities right on energy sources.

“The energy minister is not well briefed. He thinks nuclear, fracking and coal power are the way forward.”

However, on the face of it, the public do not like these technologies. Those who object to local renewables projects would be even less happy with having another energy source as a neighbour, he said.

“People, particularly in the south, think of fracking, coal and nuclear as being ‘somewhere else’. If they had these on their doorstep, they’d choose renewables over these,” added Mr Selwyn.

“If we don’t take [on renewables], the alternatives are not particularly attractive.

“Wind takes up a small space, solar pv is only temporary. We can go back if we need food more than energy.”

Wind projects used to receive the most objections, but solar is starting to take over, and high-profile cases such as the proposed solar farm in Peterborough are turning the public against the technology.

There was a perceived sense of “losing the renewable energy argument”, according to some farmers.

The best thing individual farmers could do was to select sites with few neighbours, and as much out of sight as possible, said Mr Croker. However, farmers must not forget planning permission can be rejected even without public opposition, he added.

More on this topic

Full NFU Conference 2013 report


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