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DEBATE: North Devon's parliamentary candidates give us their thoughts on renewable energy

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 16, 2014


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In the first of a series of features, the Journal asks North Devon's parliamentary candidates for the 2015 general election where they stand on some of the area's big issues. This week we find out where our candidates stand on the divisive subject of renewable energy.

Nick Harvey – Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon

I am supportive of renewable technologies as part of the UK's energy mix, but we've got to be realistic about what's appropriate for North Devon.

The intense drive for wood biomass is one example. Inflated wood subsidies risked pricing the wood panel industry out of the market, putting jobs at South Molton's Norbord at risk.

I tabled an amendment to the Energy Bill designed to limit this – subsidies have since been capped at a lower level.

We need to rebalance Government subsidies away from onshore windpower, which has an inflated support rate (hence their dominance in areas like North Devon) and towards renewables like marine power.

We have a huge resource off the coast of North Devon: trials of a marine current turbine off Lynmouth nine years ago vastly exceeded expectations.

Yet the lack of financial support means that such technology hasn't entered the commercial market yet, so the industry hasn't developed enough.

Now is the time to harness the huge potential of our waves and that's the direction I believe we should be taking in this region.

Peter Heaton-Jones – Conservative Party

Renewable energy has a vital role to play in the "mix" of power generation in the UK.

However, we cannot rely on renewables alone. We need a range of generation methods to ensure an affordable supply and safeguard our country's energy security.

I strongly opposed the Atlantic Array – the proposed wind farm off the North Devon coast.

It was the wrong plan in the wrong place and its possible risks far outweighed any supposed benefits.

I publicly fought the scheme, rather than sitting on the fence as other politicians have done. I am pleased that the array has now been abandoned.

It's equally important that all onshore schemes, from large solar farms to individual wind turbines, are scrutinised through a proper planning process.

Renewable energy is vital, but not at the cost of the landscape of North Devon or the quality of life of its residents.

Steve Crowther – UKIP

Renewable energy is a good idea. Unfortunately, it has been misdiagnosed as the answer to climate change and the UK's catastrophic energy policies, which will lead to blackouts next year.

Predictable renewable energy, such as tidal power, can be used as part of an energy mix to feed the National Grid.

Unpredictable renewables such as wind and sun can be used in small local ways to reduce demand.

People make a huge fuss over nuclear being guaranteed £92 MWh, yet offshore wind gets £150 MWh.

One is a predictable, controllable, highly efficient renewable energy source, and the other is a load of rusting turbines.

Right now, we should be refusing the EU's demand that we close nine perfectly good power stations and leave ourselves short of electricity, and our heavy industries forced to move to India.

With a breathing space we can invest in a proper mix of shale gas, clean coal, modern (cleaner) nuclear and reliable renewable energy, and still afford to buy food as well.

Mark Cann – Labour

The recent storms have reminded us how fragile our environment is. I have no doubt that unless we continue to take urgent steps to reduce our carbon emissions we will be passing on a terrible legacy to future generations.

We need to exploit all forms of renewable energy and that means both off shore and on shore wind.

We need to expand our investment in research and the development of other forms such as wave and tidal.

I have long been a supporter of the principle of the Severn Barrage which not only would generate 5% of our national energy needs but provide significant employment during construction.

It seems crazy to ignore the opportunities presented by the tidal forces on our doorstep.

I have misgivings over nuclear power as I remain to be convinced of its long term safety and I don't see the problem of dealing with waste as being resolved.

All the more reason to increase investment in renewables and obviate the need for additional nuclear capacity.

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  • gatfer  |  January 16 2014, 6:51PM

    Will the Journal be asking North Devon's parliamentary candidates for the 2015 general election where they stand on the UK being a member of a United States of Europe ? ...... Note: .. NOT UK BEING A MEMBER OF THE EU .... but Britain becoming an undemocratic region of the federal UNITED STATES OF EUROPE which is the objective of the EU ........ http://tinyurl.com/nz9fft7

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