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Two thirds of wind farms are foreign-owned

Two thirds of wind turbines in Britain are owned by foreign firms – netting them millions of pounds in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Of the 3,419 turbines, no fewer than 2,276 are either fully or partly owned by companies which are based abroad.

It means that more than half a billion pounds in generous incentives offered by the Government is going overseas every single year – at a time when many public services are facing the axe.

The huge amount paid in subsidy is added to household energy bills, which are set to soar this winter.

Foreign wind farm companies are keen to invest in Britain because we have the windiest climate in Europe – meaning they can reap huge profits.

The Coalition insists the incentives offered are no more generous than those in other EU countries.

Last night a former chancellor said it was wrong that so much government money should be being picked up by foreign companies. Lord Lawson, chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said: ‘[Wind farms are] absolutely pointless, extremely damaging both for the British economy and for British consumers.

‘To have so many foreign companies creaming off the subsidy merely adds insult to injury.’

An investigation found that one Danish company owns or part-owns three offshore farms which receive almost £100million a year in subsidies from British consumers.

Firms from Japan, the U.S., Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany also own British wind farms.

They include a Tokyo-based investment company, which earlier this month bought a large slice of a 48-turbine wind farm off the coast of Essex, a cruise liner firm based in Oslo, and a Luxembourg firm with eight turbines on land owned by Samantha Cameron’s father. From next year, £523million in subsidies will go to foreign companies, according to the Renewable Energy Foundation think tank.

The amount will soar in the next decade as the Government tries to meet carbon-reduction targets.

Dr Lee Moroney, of the REF, said: ‘Target-driven and generously subsidised growth in the renewables sector was always likely to attract international investors seeking rapid returns and a prompt exit.

‘The real concern is that, having made handsome profits from UK bill-payers, they will move on leaving the UK with subprime or distressed assets.’

The subsidies, or Renewable Obligations Certificate payments, come on top of money made selling electricity. They are proportionate to the amount of energy produced.

A spokesman for RenewableUK, the trade body for the wind industry, said: ‘The liberalised electricity market brought in by Margaret Thatcher has made the UK a great place to do business.

‘Factoring in the best wind resource in Europe, it’s no surprise that companies from overseas would want to invest here. The industry employs nearly 10,000 people in the UK, and invested nearly £2billion last year alone.’

The overseas firm making the most money is DONG, a Danish company which has a large stake in three offshore wind farms that will make £98million in subsidies.

It also has a 50 per cent share in the development of the 175-turbine London Array offshore site. Spanish-owned Scottish Power has 21 wind farms in the UK with more than 500 turbines – entitling it to a subsidy of £80million.

An eight-turbine farm on the land of Sir Reginald Sheffield, the PM’s father-in-law, earns £2million for UK company Bagmoor Wind Ltd. Its controlling firm is Luxembourg-based Ridge Wind Holdings.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change said: ‘The subsidy levels in the UK are lower than a number of nations. We have the best free wind resource in Europe, so it’s no surprise global firms want to invest and build in the UK.’

Some £2.6million was handed to 11 wind farm companies last week to stop generating electricity.

The National Grid says if the network cannot cope with a surge in production, some firms must stop operating and are compensated.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, described this as ‘offensive to consumers’, who foot the bill.