The UK has a target to generate 10% of its electricity from renewables by 2010. All the eight English regions plus London have their own individual targets in order to reach the total. The BWEA report states that on average across England only 50% of the renewable electricity generation will be met, with some regions such as the South West failing to reach even a third.
The report shows that overall the target will only be met because both Scotland and Northern Ireland are set to outstrip their own targets. However, it reveals that a slow and ineffective local planning system in England and Wales is tying down wind farm planning applications for an average of 14 months, against a statutory guideline period of 16 weeks. It also shows that around a half of wind farm applications taken to appeal for refusal or non-determination are then approved, raising doubts about the ability of local planning authorities to deliver the nation's renewables programme.
Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive said: "The target based approach works - all it takes is the political will to deliver. In Scotland renewables targets were backed by a policy framework and decisive central Government action. As a consequence, Scotland achieved more installed capacity then it was aiming for, thus helping to improve the overall UK picture as we approach 2010. But, in England we need to think carefully on how to use the lessons learned from 2010, as we attempt to reach the binding EU wide 2020 targets."
The 2010 targets set by each regional planning authority are voluntary, as opposed to the EU wide 2020 targets which are binding. The only part of England which has met its 2010 targets is London, but London's overall contribution is around 2% of total nationwide renewable electricity.
The report also shows that there is enough renewable generating capacity approved, forecasting that the 10% figure will eventually be met, albeit with a significant delay. According to BWEA, this proves that in any future attempt to reach targets, decisions need to be made in a timely manner, so that there is enough renewable capacity consented on time, in order to be built on time.
"If we want to use 2010 as a dry run for 2020, timeliness and political initiative would be the two key lessons we should implement. A clear schedule of implementation backed by central Government, with a system of checks and balances as we approach 2020, will be crucial if we want to join the renewable energy revolution, and not be laggards in Europe," concluded McCaffery.
The publication of the BWEA report on regional renewable energy targets is followed by the publication on Wednesday 15 July of the UK Government's Renewable Energy Strategy, which sets out how the UK should reach its EU binding target of sourcing 15% of all energy (30-35% of electricity) from renewables by 2020.