Renewable Energy for East Anglia Sept02

ALTHOUGH the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development failed to set any specific targets on the use of renewable energy, the East of England is taking the lead in environmental protection and promoting the use of renewable energy sources throughout the Region.

East Anglia will have the first Government backed commercial-sized offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom. I'm delighted to say that Scroby Sands Wind Farm, off Great Yarmouth, has secured a European Union grant and will provide enough electricity for some 60,000 households by next autumn. But while this development will put East Anglia at the centre of renewable energy in the UK, I feel that we should be aiming for much more ambitious targets. Denmark, for example, has already set a target of generating 50% of its total electricity requirements by 2030 using wind energy.

East Anglia's geographic location and wind patterns favour our region to harness wind energy, both offshore and inland. If the UK were able to match the Danish plan, we could generate more than three times the UK’s current electricity needs. This would enable substantial export through the EU grid and a massive 21% reduction in our CO2 emissions.

Therefore, I welcome the recent Greenpeace Report "Sea Wind East", which proposes to create 40 wind farms off the shores of Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk in order to supply 25% of the UK's current electricity demand by the year 2020. This project will generate clean electricity, attract £20bn in new inward investment and substantial economic benefits to the region by creating up to 60,000 new jobs 

Ecotricity, which built Swaffham’s landmark wind turbine, wants to build six on a Greenfield hilltop site at Sedgeford, near Hunstanton in Norfolk. This scheme would power more than 7,000 homes including the Queen's Sandringham estate. The local community could take their electricity straight from the turbines. The line of six 65m turbines – around the same size as the one in Somerton, near Yarmouth – would be built on land owned by the Sedgeford Hall estate, between Sedgeford and Snettisham.

Conservation groups such as Greenpeace and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds are supportive as long as these turbines are suitably sited. Such investment in wind energy offers new prospects for our desperate farmers who have suffered big falls in their income due to the ill-conceived Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU. The reforms of the CAP will offer, under Pillar 2, possibility of EU funding for diversification for farmers.

I support the use of renewable energy – both wind and biofuels – and will be delighted to help any farmer, landlord or investor contemplating such investment, especially here in west Suffolk. This subject will be discussed at a seminar for SMEs (Small & Medium-sized Enterprises) on "EU Funding Explained" held at Bury Lodge, Stansted, Essex on October 11 (10.30am-2.30pm). Details are available from Louise Fox, Tel: 00 32 228 47953 or email to