Tory pledge on windfarms

Middlemoor windfarm, to the north of Alnwick.
Middlemoor windfarm, to the north of Alnwick.

The Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick has welcomed the news that, if elected in 2015, the Tories would axe public subsidies for any newly-planned onshore wind turbines.

Existing windfarms and those that have already gained planning permission would be protected from the change, but Energy Minister Michael Fallon said these would be enough to meet 2020 targets set by the EU and therefore any further developments would not be subsidised.

The pledge also includes a commitment to change planning procedures that would give local communities more power to reject onshore wind projects not already in place.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Every day I see and hear the huge anger that these monstrosities have caused among local communities and I have made sure that ministers understand the strength of feeling that exists here. This is excellent news and will bring much relief to local people who now know for sure that a majority Conservative government after the next election will stop subsiding onshore windfarms.

“As well as being inefficient, noisy and disruptive, onshore windfarms just don’t make sense. Operators are paid twice as much for electricity compared to gas power stations. The only thing that they do guarantee is higher electricity bills which cripple hardworking families and drive businesses away.”

But Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said that the subsidy should end when onshore turbines are making a sufficient contribution.

“The time to cut the subsidy on onshore windfarms should not be an arbitrary political date, but should be when we are satisfied that onshore wind turbines are making a sufficient contribution to our renewable-energy needs, and my view is that we are getting close to that time with the approvals already given.

“I am in favour of what the Coalition has already done both in reducing the subsidy and in strengthening the local communities’ powers in planning, but it is misleading to suggest that the central Government involvement could be removed completely because all planning applications of any kind are open to appeal.”

In his pledge, Mr Fallon said: “Making sure that we have a good mixture of reliable energy is an important part of our long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain. We remain committed to cutting our carbon emissions. And renewable energy, including onshore wind, has a key role in our future energy supply.

“But we now have enough billpayer-funded onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more. That’s why the next Conservative Government will end any additional billpayer subsidy for onshore wind, and give local councils the decisive say on any new windfarms.”

On Wednesday, the Department for Energy and Climate Change unveiled eight major renewable electricity projects, which include the conversion of Lynemouth Power Station to biomass.