Minister backs renewable energy

Wind farms should not be located in areas of the country where there is little wind, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says.

Mr Paterson, who is viewed by some environmentalists as a global warming sceptic, said that he accepted that climate change is happening and that there was "a human element" to the process.

But he insisted that the Government should take a "horses for courses" approach to efforts to reduce carbon emissions, using different technologies to produce renewable energy in different parts of the country, depending on geographical factors.

It was "idiotic" to erect wind turbines in areas with little wind - like his own North Shropshire constituency - where they could inflict environmental as well as economic damage, he said. It was important to take into account the views of local people, who were more positive about developments in windy areas where they can generate significant numbers of jobs than in other parts of the country.

Mr Paterson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is quite obvious that the climate is changing and has been changing for some years, up and down. It is obvious that there is a human element. There are all sorts of other things that affect climate change, like the sun.

"Some of the measures we might be taking to mitigate climate change might be causing more environmental damage. We might locate wind farms in the wrong place.

"As a local MP where the trees grow vertically because we don't have much wind, I think that is an idiotic place to build wind farms and is doing significant not just environmental but also economic damage...

"In my part of the world, where there is not a lot of wind, we don't save on carbon emissions at all. In my part of the world, it is other technologies, such as anaerobic digesters brewing up waste food - and we have an appalling level of food waste in this country - that are probably a more appropriate renewable technology.

"It is very much horses for courses. We want the appropriate renewable technology for energy generation suitable for the location."

Mr Paterson denied that he was seeking to water down the Government's commitments to use renewable energy technologies to reduce carbon emissions, insisting that "energy policy is decided by DECC (the Department for Energy and Climate Change), I look at the impact on the rural economy and the rural environment".