BRITAIN is committed to generate one–fifth of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, up from about four per cent at the moment. Fourteen years is not a long time in which to reach the target so there is an understandable inclination to focus on renewable technologies that are already operating efficiently. The favourite is therefore wind power in which Britain is second only to Denmark in the number of projects already in place. The government has just given its approval to what what will be the world's largest offshore wind farm in the Thames estuary. The scheme, called London Array, with 341 turbines generating 1'000 megawatts of power, enough to meet just one per cent of the UK's total electricity needs, will spread over 90 square miles (how many football pitches is that, please?). The British Wind Energy Association is delighted but others are already organising themselves for opposition. The UK Chamber of Shipping believes the London Array wind farm will be too close to shipping lanes and that the huge turbine blades could interfere with ships' radar. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is concerned for the survival of the colonies of red–throated divers that spend winters nearby. The British government recently announced plans to speed up the existing laborious planning procedures for wind farm and other major projects that impinge on the landscape. They are likely to be needed in the coming years as the demand for rewnewable energy grows.


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