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The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Greenway has raised a serious issue on consultation. Will the Minister address the reasons behind the delay in consultation? The industry deserves an apology from the Government if the consultation has not been adequate. I hope that the Minister will deal with that.

Lord Monro of Langholm: My Lords, I support the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, and my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith in tabling the amendments. We must assume that if the Government are not prepared to accept them, they believe that the present legislation is adequate. But manifestly it is not. I want to call the Minister's attention to the wind farms on the Solway Firth, which cross the median line between Scotland and England. The Minister must accept that he has to reply, just as Ministers must reply in the Scottish Executive. It is an English/Scottish decision. We are dealing with UK legislation and UK incentives that provide the enthusiasm for all these wind farms.

What consultations did the Government have with the local interests in the Solway Firth, with the fishermen, pleasure sailing interests and the commercial ports of Kirkcudbright and Annan? The Government refused to have a public inquiry and any form of local authority involvement. They said, willy-nilly, "We'll have the wind farm in the middle of the Solway". How does that measure up with their indication that there is consultation and nothing to worry about when there obviously is something to worry about?

It is disgraceful that the Government have reached this decision with no consultation or inquiry and to hell with what the fishermen think. It is a most serious matter. One must thread one's way back from the Irish Sea to ports in the Solway—with a great deal of pleasure sailing in south-west Scotland. One cannot just take a sailing boat anywhere one wants to go through a wind farm—it is more complicated than that. Why has this been allowed to happen? Will the amendment avoid the serious difficulty that has arisen? I want to know the answers.

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein: My Lords, I want to speak briefly, not having spoken previously in the debate. I support the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, particularly about the safety of navigation and whether the general lighthouse authorities are involved in the discussions and consultations. I understand that in relation to the wind farms in Solway Firth the Northern Lighthouse Board had to insist that it was involved. Again as I understand it, at one stage it was told that there was no need for its involvement. It insisted on being well involved because it regarded it as being important for safety and navigation at night that the required

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structures are properly lit. I join the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, in seeking assurance that the three general lighthouse authorities are involved wherever these structures are being built offshore.

Furthermore, I certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, on standards of navigation. In my part of the world—north-west Scotland—when the seamen on watch on board the "Jambo" were sent below, the officer of the watch promptly went to sleep for 40 minutes. That ship went ashore at the entrance to Loch Broom. That can happen anywhere and with disastrous effects. It is important that there is proper consultation and proper involvement with all the relevant authorities.

4.15 p.m.

The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, I, too, want to take up that theme. If your Lordships look at the www.bigconversation.org.uk website, they will see this statement from the Prime Minister:


    "We should have the confidence to open up the debate, be honest about the challenges, lay out the real choices".

When it comes to shipping, ports, fishing, recreation and wind farms, far from being a big conversation it is a big silence. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, and others who have spoken that the department ought to be severely rebuked for the lack of consultation that it has undertaken on this important subject.

We are now in round two, and as future rounds come up it is particularly important that the Government do not make the same mistake as they have made with rounds one and two in not consulting. When it comes to the sea around our coast, we need to be careful before doing anything. Your Lordships will appreciate that some 95 per cent of our trade comes by ships. We take that for granted, but ships have accidents for all kinds of reasons.

I was involved with the "Braer" and "Herald of Free Enterprise" accidents and I know only too well the disasters that can happen. Both those ships were exercising the right of free passage; an international right. It is the Government's responsibility not to hinder that right. The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, referred to Article 60(7) of UNCLOS; it is worth reading that to your Lordships. It states:


    "Artificial islands, installations and structures and the safety zones around them may not be established where interference may be caused to the use of recognised sea lanes essential to international navigation".

That is what is happening with some of the proposals under round two.

That agreement with UNCLOS, to which the British Government have signed up, does not apply to territorial waters, but it applies within the UK renewable energy zone and both should have a common energy regime. It is wrong that there should be two different regimes. I support that statement with the argument that the Thames estuary and the Greater Wash strategic areas straddle both the UK territorial waters and the UK renewable energy zone. It is therefore important that a common regime applies to both.

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Increasingly, Britain and Europe are moving to a short sea shipping regime—a regime supported by the Commission and the governments of member states. That is for two reasons: one is the appalling congestion on our roads and railways; the other is pure economics. Inevitably, much trade to Britain comes on short sea routes from Europe rather than arriving in this country and using the motorway. For example, most of B&Q's goods coming into the Humber estuary come from Rotterdam. There they come off the big international liners, are broken down on to smaller vessels and they come across the sea into the Humber estuary.

It is worth looking at the Humber estuary for a moment. The area will be affected by a proposed wind farm. In 2002, the Department for Transport's statistics showed 15,321 ship arrivals in all the Humber ports. In 2002, more than 1 million passengers sailed either on the Hull/Rotterdam ferry or the Hull/Zeebrugge ferry. Grimsby and Immingham are the largest freight ports in this country, taking 10 per cent of the 2002 traffic—some 55.7 million tonnes. If one sites a wind farm so that restrictions are imposed on that kind of shipping traffic, one is asking for trouble. I ask the Government to consider this matter very seriously. It is not only the Humber ports that are affected; as the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, said, Cromer is affected, as are the Merseyside ports by the development of Liverpool.

Another reason for considering this matter particularly carefully is that there is an EU initiative on short-sea shipping called "Motorways of the Sea". When I was in Brussels last week talking about short sea shipping, one lane that was mentioned as possibly being designated as a new motorway of the sea was the Rotterdam-Humber link. A wind farm in the middle of that lane would affect the shipping and merely complicate the hazards. The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, may say that it would be very easy for ships to sail round the wind farm, but I ask him what his reaction would be if one of us submitted a planning application to place a mast on the flight path into Heathrow. It is perfectly feasible for an aircraft to divert around a mast but it is not terribly practical to do so. The more that people are asked to divert ships, the more that will cause congestion. That is true not only of ships bringing in freight and passengers; one will be forcing fishermen and recreational craft into a smaller and smaller area.

I want to move on to the subject of recreation and draw your Lordships' attention to some of the effects of wind farms, particularly the one proposed for Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay. I freely recognise that that is not one of the round two wind farms, but a wind farm there will cause sufficient turbulence to prevent that stretch of water, which is the finest small-craft racing water in northern Europe, being used as our 2012 Olympic sailing event post. That will have a very serious implication for recreational craft and for the economics of this

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country. If our best racing water would be disturbed by turbines, for goodness sake, let us think again and put the turbines somewhere else.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I believe that my noble friend Lord Whitty should pay great attention to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Greenway. This is a very serious matter and I do not consider that the Government have treated it with proper courtesy. The question is partly one of diverting shipping around intrusions in the shipping lanes. The important point about those intrusions—it has not been mentioned thus far in the debate—is their size. The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, referred to the controversies in the 1960s and thereabouts concerning oil rigs. Oil rigs were certainly an intrusion and a potential danger but, from the point of view of energy policy, they were useful. None the less, there was a good deal of concern about their effect upon shipping in the North Sea.

I am struck by the fact that wind farms are far bigger than oil rigs. Therefore, they intrude far more and are much more dangerous. A wind farm with 30 turbines was recently erected off Anglesey. I do not remember its exact size but it produces 60 megawatts of power. That is not a great deal, but it is no doubt worth having.

However, the other day I read in New Civil Engineer magazine, which comes my way, about a proposed wind farm off the East Anglian coast. I am not sure whether it was the one to which the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, referred, but the point is that it will be at least two kilometres—that is, a mile—wide. It is far wider than any oil rig of which I have heard. In addition, it will be five or six kilometres in length. Therefore, we are talking about an area off East Anglia which is two kilometres wide by five or six kilometres long, which is a sizeable area of intrusion into the North Sea.

The Government must consider the following. First, from their point of view, it is highly desirable to obtain energy which does not produce carbon dioxide and other such by-products which are thought to be undesirable. Secondly—this appeals to me as a Scotsman—in a sense, the fuel is obtained for free. On the other hand, the amount of fuel produced is far less than one imagines. In Denmark, wind farms produce only 25 per cent of the available energy, which is less than one might have thought. None the less, wind farms are desirable.

But, against that, the Government must set the fact that, in producing any energy from off-shore wind farms, the intrusion into the North Sea or, indeed, into other seas around our islands will be unreasonable. The Government must rethink their policies from first principles and not from a mere desire to meet their Kyoto requirements, reasonable although that may be.


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