The Scottish Government has launched a robust defence of its flagship green energy policy after concerns were raised by more than 100 Tory politicians about the cost of subsidies paid for onshore wind farms.
The MPS called for a dramatic cut to subsidies in a revolt against government policy, as they expressed serious concerns over the level of taxpayers’ money going to the sector.
Campaigners against wind farms in Scotland yesterday added their voices to the calls for subsidies to be slashed. However, the Scottish Government insisted it was committed to onshore wind and its renewable energy policies would save consumers money in the long term.
The Tory MPs wrote to David Cameron: “In these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines.”
They added: “We ask the government to dramatically cut the subsidy for on-shore wind and spread the savings made between other types of reliable renewable energy production and energy-efficiency measures.”
It will be an early headache for new Energy Secretary Ed Davey – promoted to the job after Chris Huhne’s resignation.
The same subsidy system, known as the Renewables Obligation, is used in Scotland as south of the Border, although the Scottish Government has powers to change the level of subsidies paid.
Scotland has a target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of the country’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020, with more from other sources.
A spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to wind energy – including its potential to generate £2 billion annually for the economy.”
He added: “Developing our renewables potential will also save consumers money in the long term, relative to a continued reliance on fossil fuels.”
He said only the “right wind farms applications in the right places” would get planning approval.
Niall Stuart, director of trade body Scottish Renewables, described the Tories’ views as “absolute nonsense”.
“These proposals would jeopardise not just progress towards our renewable energy and climate change targets, but would also threaten billions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs across the UK,” he said.
He argued cutting subsidies for onshore wind would end up putting up bills for consumers, because climate change targets would have to be met using other, more costly forms of renewable energy.
However, Susan Crosthwaite from Communities Against Turbines Scotland threw her support behind the idea of slashing subsidies for onshore wind.
She has also written to Mr Cameron, as well as Chancellor George Osborne, encouraging them to take the opportunity of Mr Huhne’s departure to make changes to the subsidy system.
“Cutting the subsidies would make the energy companies only install them if they were financially viable, which they are not.
“So it would bring the whole wind-farm business to a standstill fairly quickly,” she said. “It would kickstart the economy because it might mean energy bills could reduce a bit, and it would also mean the government would have the money to spend on other things.”
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