It is grimly appropriate that the Conservative MPs’ rebellion over onshore wind power, which has landed, in the form of a letter, on the desk of new Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, has coincided with the onset of Britain’s big freeze.
For it is, of course, at times of very cold weather that the extra electricity provided by wind turbines is most needed. Yet it is also at such times that these machines are at their most useless, as the cold inland air remains stubbornly still and the blades refuse to move.
Undaunted, the Government persists in claiming that onshore wind is a “cost-effective and valuable part of the UK’s diverse energy mix”. Tell that to the hard-pressed consumers who have to fund them.
Wind power is meant to be a cheap, effective source of green energy. Yet it demands huge subsidies which are recouped through ever-rising energy bills as more and more people are forced into fuel poverty. And, to cater for those times when the wind doesn’t blow, it requires constant back-up from conventional sources, such as coal-fired power stations, thereby neutralising any advantage in terms of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
None of these arguments made any impression on Mr Davey’s predecessor, Chris Huhne, who pursued wind power with a fierce, ideological intensity. Only time will tell if Mr Davey will prove more pragmatic.
But, bearing in mind Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, in which he said unequivocally that he would not pursue green policies that damaged the country’s interests, the 101 Tory MPs who put their names to the letter may yet discover that they are not being rebellious at all.
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