Keep wind farm prom­ises, say MPs

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Jil­lian Am­brose EN­ERGY ED­I­TOR

MPs have warned the Gov­ern­ment not to drop its man­i­festo pledge to block on­shore wind farms af­ter min­is­ters sug­gested the rules could be re­laxed.

David Cameron’s 2015 man­i­festo promised to halt the spread of sub­sidised on­shore wind tur­bines af­ter more than 100 Con­ser­va­tive MPs wrote to the Prime Min­is­ter call­ing for wind sub­si­dies to be scrapped.

The row over on­shore wind farms was given fresh im­pe­tus af­ter the en­ergy min­is­ters Claire Perry and Richard Har­ring­ton alarmed their back­bench col­leagues by re­veal­ing that they are work­ing on ways to sup­port fu­ture projects. Ms Perry prompted con­cern late last year af­ter say­ing that on­shore wind “is ab­so­lutely part of the fu­ture” and that she is work­ing on ways “to see how we might bring for­ward on­shore wind, par­tic­u­larly for ar­eas of the UK that want to de­ploy it”.

Mr Har­ring­ton, the ju­nior en­ergy min­is­ter, has said that he sees “no rea­son” why on­shore wind farms should not com­pete on a level play­ing field against other en­ergy op­tions vy­ing for fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Glyn Davies, the MP for Mont­gomeryshire in Wales, who played a lead­ing role in the cam­paign against on­shore wind farms, said he was “alarmed” by the change of tone. “I’ve spo­ken to Claire Perry be­cause I wanted to let her know my view. The min­is­ter as­sured me that there hasn’t been a change and I am a bit re­as­sured by that,” he said.

“We’ve got huge num­bers of peo­ple who demon­strated their op­po­si­tion pre­vi­ously and I think all those peo­ple would be re­ac­ti­vated if the Gov­ern­ment changed its po­si­tion.”

Mr Davies op­poses plans by Na­tional Grid to in­stall power lines through Mid Wales in or­der to con­nect any new wind farms.

Bob Ste­wart, the MP for Beck­en­ham and another op­po­nent, said: “We are con­strained by the man­i­festo and if we have said we will do some­thing we should. If we don’t, there should re­ally be a very good rea­son not to.”

A Gov­ern­ment spokesman clar­i­fied the min­is­ters’ com­ments, say­ing: “We do not be­lieve that more large-scale on­shore wind power is right for Eng­land, but in other ar­eas where there is pub­lic sup­port and it is cost-ef­fec­tive it could be de­vel­oped in fu­ture.”

The min­is­ters re­vealed their sup­port for wind power in the wake of a fall in tur­bine costs, which could re­sult in cheaper power and lower house­hold bills. The sharp de­cline in costs could open a loop­hole for min­is­ters to of­fer sup­port to on­shore wind projects, without break­ing the pledge to scrap sub­si­dies, through so-called “sub­sidyfree” con­tracts.

The ap­par­ent soft­en­ing of a party pledge is likely to re­open the rift in the party over re­new­able en­ergy.

Emma Pinch­beck, of Re­new­able UK, said: “The po­lit­i­cal de­bate about on­shore wind has be­gun to shift be­cause the eco­nomics have changed. West­min­ster was sur­prised by the record drop in the cost of off­shore wind last year and this has opened up a wider de­bate on how cheap re­new­ables, in­clud­ing on­shore wind, can help lock-in low prices for their con­stituents.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.