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Wind farm subsidy cut urged by MPs

More than 100 Conservative MPs have written to the prime minister urging him to cut subsidies for wind turbines.

They also want planning rules changed to make it easier for local people to object to their construction.

The Tory MPs – joined by some backbenchers from other parties – questions the amount of money going to the sector during “straitened times”.

But the government said wind farms were a “cost-effective and valuable part of the UK’s diverse energy mix”.

The challenge to the coalition’s policy presents an immediate problem for the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey. He was promoted to the job following the resignation of fellow Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne last Friday.

Lib Dem president Tim Farron told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Mr Davey was a “very, very capable man” and an “outstanding environmentalist”, who would “take forward” wind farms and other projects despite opposition.

‘Straitened times’

Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on subsidising wind farms each year as the government strives to meet legally binding targets to reduce carbon emissions.

State help for wind farms is being cut under plans set out by ministers last year, but MPs have demanded an acceleration.

“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 wrote in the letter, seen by the Sunday Telegraph.

The politicians also expressed concerns that the proposed National Planning Policy Framework “diminishes the chances of local people defeating onshore wind farm proposals through the planning system”.

Organised by backbencher Chris Heaton-Harris, the letter’s 101 Tory signatories include senior figures such as David Davis, Bernard Jenkin and Nicholas Soames.

BBC chief political correspondent Gary O’Donoghue says Mr Heaton-Harris and the signatories are not against renewable energy per se, but believe onshore wind got far too big a slice of the cake.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “We need a low carbon infrastructure and onshore wind is a cost effective and valuable part of the UK’s diverse energy mix.”

She added: “We are committed to giving local communities the power to shape the spaces in which they live and are getting rid of regional targets introduced by the last government.

“The draft framework also aims to strengthen local decision making and reinforce the importance of local plans.”

Mr Huhne resigned as Energy and Climate Change Secretary on Friday after hearing he faced a charge of perverting the course of justice over a 2003 speeding case, a claim he denies.