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Dr Jack Cunningham MP, Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, is actively opposing two wind farms being proposed within his constituency on the grounds of visual intrusion [1] despite the presence of Britain's largest nuclear facility, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd at Sellafield, only a few miles away. The wind farms are proposed at Drigg and Fairfield Farm, Pica, approximately four and twelve miles respectively from Sellafield in Cumbria.Jack Cunningham, who is famously pro-nuclear, has been a President of the 'Friends of Sellafield Society' and received financial support for travel and accommodation from the nuclear industry for trips abroad.

Ironically, Dr Cunningham also argues that the wind farms should be rejected because they can only operate with “substantial subsidy” - apparently forgetting his support for multi-billion pound Government subsidies provided to the nuclear industry. The nuclear industry currently has liabilities of nearly £42 billion of which £30 billion remains to be covered by the taxpayer [2].

Dr Cunningham's opposition to the wind farms also flies in the face of the Government's stated aim to increase the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources to
10 per cent by 2010.

Tony Juniper, Campaigns Director at Friends of the Earth, said:

“Dr Cunningham seems to have lost his grip on reality. It is the nuclear industry that has wasted billions of pounds of taxpayers' money while leaving us with a deadly legacy of radioactive waste for future generations to inherit, not to mention the ugly visual intrusion of nuclear power stations.

The Minister's opposition to wind farms may have more to with his own prejudices than sound economics. New Labour is meant to be encouraging renewable energy, not opposing it with specious and ill-informed arguments.”


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ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] Dr Cunningham refers to the Drigg proposal, four miles from Sellafield, as a “massively intrusive development at coastal level” and the Pica site as a “massive visual intrusion”. Dr Cunningham's opposition to the wind farms is laid out in letters of objection to Mr Christopher Shipley, Chief Planning Inspector at the Planning Inspectorate, and Mr B Metcalfe, Director of Development and Services for Copeland Borough Council. Copies of the letters are available from Friends of the Earth.

[2] Managing Nuclear Liabilities, Science Policy Research Unit, 1997. Authors are Mike Sadnicki, an independent Operational Research Consultant specialising in economic analysis of the nuclear industry and Gordon MacKerron, Head of the Energy Programme at SPRU and currently chairman of the Energy Panel of the DTi/Office of Science and Technology Foresight Programme.



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