Wind farm rows reflect deep split on energy policy
Rejecting charges led by the Daily Telegraph – no fan of turbines in England’s green and pleasant land – that the subsidy would add £178 a year to electricity bills, Davey’s officials estimated the impact at £68 a year in bills in 2030.
Faced with a mounting campaign against wind farms, the Renewable Energy Association trade body said the impact of green energy on bills had been “wildly overstated”, claiming it had cost an extra £4 in the last two years.
The fruits of the Davey/ Osborne deal reached the House of Commons yesterday, though it is not yet clear if it will give the green light to two new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point in Somerset – capacity that is badly needed as some of the UK coal-fired stations near the end of their lives.
EDF Energy, Hinkley Point’s owner, was expected to have taken a final decision about its plans in Somerset – the first new nuclear stations in the UK for 25 years – by the end of the year, but that timetable has slipped.
Under the legislation, investors in nuclear power stations and renewables will be compensated if prices fall below a “strike price” yet to be agreed with government. If prices rise above that figure then generators will pay the difference back to consumers.
The “strike price” is a matter of bitter division, with some anti-nuclear lobbies arguing it could be three times the current wholesale price for electricity, though this figure is rejected as ridiculous by EDF.
Osborne wants more gas stations: quick to build, they can be brought online in minutes and emit less CO2, though environmentalists argue such measures deny the reality of climate change and the need to reform energy production to cope with it.
However, Osborne has become progressively more jaundiced against renewables, ruling out a Liberal Democrat demand for a complete greening of energy production by 2030.
For the chancellor, the issue is primarily a matter of economics, since he argues little is achieved by cutting the UK’s CO2 emissions simply by losing industry that needs power to elsewhere.
Back in Orby, locals will have to wait until the New Year to see if Caudwell’s third attempt to build his wind farm succeeds. More evidence about noise is required, says the planning inspector.