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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Green electricity target in doubt
Wind turbine
Wind power is vital until wave and tide energy can be harnessed
The South West might not meet its 2010 renewable electricity target, the renewable energy agency has warned.

Regen SW has levelled criticism at local council planners for rejecting too many wind turbine plans.

It said planning permission remained the most "significant barrier", with seven schemes refused in the past year and only three approved.

North Cornwall District Council said it supported renewable energy, but some applications were "inappropriate".

A spokesman told BBC News: "North Cornwall District Council is certainly doing its bit for renewable energy.

Even the districts at the top of the league table could be doing much better
Matthew Spencer, Regen SW

"Years ago our councillors gave permission for the first ever commercial wind farm in the UK - so you could say we are market leaders."

The council has approved four wind farms at Delabole, Cold Northcott, St Breock Downs and Bear's Down, St Eval.

It said looking after the environment was a key priority, but that did not mean councillors would, as a matter of course, approve every renewable energy application submitted.

"Some applications are just inappropriate for the location because of their adverse impact on the landscape, the community and wildlife," the council said, adding it was the prerogative of locally elected councillors to refuse renewable energy developments considered unsuitable.

North Cornwall - 23.52 MW
Kerrier, Cornwall - 12.49 MW
Carrick, Cornwall - 10.53 MW
Torridge, Devon - 7.72 MW
Poole, Dorset - 7.67 MW
Plymouth, Devon - 7.60 MW
North Wiltshire - 7.54 MW
Teignbridge, Devon - 6.66 MW
Caradon, Cornwall - 5.42 MW
Source: Regen SW

By 2010, the South West region should have installed nearly 600 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity of green electricity under government targets.

Regen SW said it now has 137 MW of renewable electricity capacity - an increase of 14.4 MW in the past 12 months.

According to its figures, the Cornish districts of North Cornwall, Kerrier and Carrick hold the top three spots in the league table for renewable electricity - Torridge is the top Devon council, at number four.

Matthew Spencer, the chief executive of Regen SW, said while some councils were making good progress, local planning decisions did not reflect a sea change in public attitudes to climate change.

"Even the districts at the top of the league table could be doing much better, given the natural resources that they have," he said.

Mr Spencer said wind farms remained crucial, with wave and tide energy still a number of years away.

Devon County Council said it was very serious about making Devon "greener" and had taken many steps to deliver this objective.

Leader Brian Greenslade said the council had switched to green electricity, achieving a 22% reduction in its carbon footprint.

Devon County Council has also been praised for its environmental performance, with the recent launch of a householders' energy reduction campaign.

Mr Greenslade said: "Driving up the amount of energy achieved by renewable sources is clearly vital but reducing energy consumption is also critical and can more quickly help reduce the level of carbon emissions than anything else."

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