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RENEWABLES: Short-term subsidies

Owen Paterson MP and Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Owen Paterson MP and Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

Following Councillor Scott Dickinson’s comments in last week’s newspaper about my views on subsidies for renewables, I am happy to be able to set out my position on this matter.

Read last week’s Gazette story here.

I believe that any subsidy used by Government should be a short-term one to help the technology reach a commercial level. If it becomes clear that this is not going to happen then the subsidy should not be used forever. The taxpayers’ money is hard-earned and should help towards future improvement, not lining the pockets of foreign investors while taxpayers, and those struggling to pay, see their fuel bills rise as a direct result of these subsidies.

Within the onshore market, I believe it is clear that we already are generating more electricity than is required for usage within the National Grid and this technology is not proving to be efficient.

Turbines that run, at best, at 25 per cent of potential capacity is not what I consider to be a good piece of technology.

They also are industrial giant pieces of machinery and were we to suggest that building giant factories on the ridge along our coastline were acceptable, I think it is safe to say that there would be an uproar.

I do not believe that scarring our unique landscapes, which have enormous economic value for us as a county, is acceptable either.

In terms of other renewables, the benefit of offshore is that there tends to be a higher economic output because the weather is more consistent and there is not the same negative visual impact.

I am not convinced that they are the ultimate solution because the reality is that until technology reaches a point where giant battery technology exists to hold electricity generated through renewables, this continues to be only a small part of our future.

I want to see renewable energy generation as part of our long-term energy mix if it is efficient, effective and not underwritten by the taxpayer in perpetuity.

We will, I am certain, harness the power of the sun and other natural resources but I do not believe that the destruction of our Northumberland landscapes is an adequate reason for spending taxpayers’ money here on onshore wind.