Conservative MPs seek cut in wind farm subsidies

Mon, Feb 6, 2012, 00:00

CONSERVATIVE MPs have mounted a campaign to cut subsidies for onshore wind turbines, following increasing anger in rural England about the construction of wind farms.

In a letter to British prime minister David Cameron, signed by 100 Conservative MPs, the MPs said they had “grown more and more concerned” about state payments offered to the industry.

More than half of the revenue received by onshore and offshore wind farms in the UK comes from subsidies through renewable obligation certificates, which were worth £1 billion (€1.2 billion) in 2009.

The British government has decided to cut the subsidies paid as the cost of development falls, but some industry experts warn that the subsidies could still cost £5 billion a year by 2020 – a cost picked up by consumers.

In their letter, the Conservative MPs urged Mr Cameron to “dramatically cut the subsidy for onshore wind” and spend the savings on other forms of renewable energies.

The Conservative MPs have also been angered by planning rules that reduce local communities’ chances of blocking “unwanted” developments.

“Recent planning appeals have approved wind farm developments with the inspectors citing renewable energy targets as being more important than planning considerations,” they said.

The MPs’ letter was prepared and sent before Friday’s resignation of one of the biggest supporters of wind energy, Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne, as secretary of state for energy and climate change. However, the timing of the MPs’ move was unlikely to have been divorced from a belief that he would have to stand down before facing charges of perverting the course of justice over a speeding points traffic penalty.

Under Mr Huhne, the British government was committed to ensuring that 15 per cent of all of the UK’s energy supply came from renewable sources by 2015.

Faced with the letter, the British government said wind farms were a “cost effective and valuable part of the UK’s diverse energy mix”.

But Mr Huhne’s replacement, fellow Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, is expected to face a tougher time in his dealings with the treasury, in the face of British chancellor George Osborne’s concerns that the green agenda could damage growth.