One of the UK's leading renewable energy companies has accused the Government of ‘sitting on its hands' in the face of Britain's looming energy crisis.
Paul McCullagh, chief executive of Glasgow-based UrbanWind, said David Cameron was ‘burying his head in the sand' to the growing threat of power blackouts.
And he pointed out that the Government is hampering potential solutions to the ‘energy crunch' by refusing to adequately support viable renewable energy technologies, such as on-shore wind turbines.
Paul McCullagh said: "The threat is getting more serious. The Government has known this for some eight years and yet chooses to ‘sit on its hands'. The situation will become increasingly critical and the time to take action is now."
He highlighted that the Government knew as far back as 2006 when the DTI published its farsighted report, ‘The Energy Challenge'. This predicted a critical shortfall in power generating capacity around 2014/15, as many of the old, fossil-fuel-burning power stations come offline to meet EU emissions targets.
"David Cameron has chosen to do nothing about this and ‘bury his head in the sand'," Paul McCullagh added.
"He needs to be leading the way on this vital issue with clear direction, consistent and transparent policy, as well as transformational leadership on green energy.
"This would enable technologies, such as on-shore wind energy, solar power and other renewable technologies, to flourish and play a pivotal role in averting the energy crisis.
"However, his claim to create the ‘greenest government ever' now looks like hollow rhetoric. His government is actually hampering the very technologies that would help ease the crisis."
Paul McCullagh pointed out that the lack of clear direction, inconsistencies on policy and political in-fighting over green energy were seriously hampering the renewables sector.
He referred to a top-level meeting senior figures from the wind industry had with Energy Secretary Ed Davey last year. He stressed that Mr Davey had promised action on planning difficulties which were harming the growth of the on-shore wind industry.
"However, nothing has happened," said Mr McCullagh. "Time is running out and something within Government needs to change as an urgent priority."
He called for a crucial three-point plan including:
• Clarity of policy from central Government to provide certainty to the market and particularly investors.
• Distinct and aligned guidance on planning issues to avoid viable and well-placed investments becoming entangled in local politics and ensure efficient delivery of viable renewable solutions
• Clear definition of the distinct difference between large-scale wind farms and small-scale wind turbines, when the latter are readily deployable and invaluable in helping to keep farmers and businesses sustainable during volatile farm prices and rising energy costs.
He pointed out that planning committees across the country are now using perceived Government objection to large-scale wind farms as reason for rejecting valuable small wind local generation schemes.
Paul McCullagh cited the case of one local authority which categorized two separate turbine applications as constituting a ‘wind farm'.
"This is unacceptable," he said. "Our wind business could grow dramatically, if these obstacles are removed, creating jobs and bringing investment throughout the supply chain, as well as providing immediate energy solutions.
"The small wind industry is primed for sustainable growth and further job creation, providing greater energy security through local, on-site power generation and reduced reliance on the national grid.
"However, the Government needs to act – and it needs to act now. By sending out a clear signal to planning committees across the country."