That contracts have been signed for the construction of the London Array windfarm in the Thames Estuary is good news. Whatever your view of global warming – and I subscribe to the view that even if some of the science is a bit dodgy it is much, much better to be safe than sorry – it is clear that unless we take action now to invest in and harness renewable energy then our children and our grandchildren are going to find the lights going out in their hospitals and their schools and their homes.
There may be enough coal in the hills of West Virginia to power the United States for the next two zillion years but that is hardly a responsible or an acceptable way forward if we are going to save what is becoming an increasingly fragile planet. There is likely to be no silver bullet, no one single source that will supply our energy needs for the future. We shall require a new generation of nuclear power stations and we need to get on with the building of them. We will need 100% carbon capture coal-fired power stations and we need to accelerate the development of that technology as well.
But we also need to use what God has given us in the form of the wind and the tides and that is just one reason why Laura Sandys under-reported Marine Energy Summit, held recently in East Kent, was so important. These will be the technologies of the future and our County can and should be taking a lead in their development. London Array will, when complete, be the largest windfarm in the world. It will generate enough energy from wind to power all of the homes in an area the size of one quarter of Greater London and in so doing it will displace the emission of 1.9 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide every year.
London Array will also create jobs. While too many of the large contracts have, because UK Ltd missed the boat, already been awarded to other European Countries, there will be other jobs in construction and long-term maintenance and servicing that can benefit the economy of East Kent and it is vital that Members of Parliament, the County Council and the City and District Councils continue to work together to ensure that the consortium awards those contracts locally.
And talking of wind energy I notice that some of the hot air that emerged from the Chancellor’s Pre-budget report promised tax concessions for those who generate energy domestically and supply the surplus to the grid. I have one constituent (living in Birchington) who has been waiting patiently for many months to install a wind generator. He cannot do so because the same government that is offering incentives has still to issue the necessary planning regulations to cover the domestic installation of wind generators! Perhaps, around that Cabinet table, they might start talking to each other!
Roger Gale M.P. (December 23rd 2009)