Five Kent MPs have demanded that the government slash its annual £400 million subsidy to the “inefficient” onshore wind farm industry.
MP for Rochester and Strood Mark Reckless, Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch, MP for Dover and Deal Charlie Elphicke, Gravesham’s Adam Holloway and MP for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins are among 101 Tory backbenchers to form a revolt against the Prime Minister.
They argue that onshore wind farms are “inefficient” and a blight on the countryside, and that it was unfair for taxpayers to be burdened with the cost.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, they stated: “In these financially straightened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines.
“In the ongoing review of subsidy for renewable energy subsidies, we ask the government to dramatically cut the subsidy for onshore wind and spread the savings made between other types of reliable renewable energy production and energy efficiency measures.”
They added that they were also worried that the new National Planning Policy Framework in its current form reduced the chances of local people defeating unwanted onshore wind farms.
Chatham and Aylesford’s Ms Crouch said Conservative MPs were concerned about value for money as well as the impact on the countryside.
“As a Kent MP in a county relatively untouched by onshore wind farms it is very important that we protect local residents and taxpayers from more inefficient wind farms, which also blight the countryside.”
She argued that they only generated energy a third of the time and had a limited life span.
“I think solar panels are a good option for renewable energy. There has just been a solar farm installed in Aylesford.
“I’ve also always supported waste to energy incineration.”
She added: “There’s been criticism about us not been green, but that’s not the case. If we’re going to pay for such projects we have to make sure they are value for money instead of paying for inefficient technology.”
But Medway’s Labour party said it was concerned by Ms Crouch and Mr Reckless’ anti-onshore views.
Spokesman for regeneration Cllr Glyn Griffiths said: “Wind technology is an important component of the UK’s energy mix as we seek to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
“With onshore wind production being technically easier and therefore cheaper than offshore, there must be a role for it in the right locations.
“Support for wind production is particularly important in this part of Kent given that the international wind technology company Vestas has opened a new facility in Sheerness with the intention of employing up to 2,000 people, as it increases its production of wind power.
“Opposition from local Tory MPs to onshore wind generation could place those new jobs in jeopardy.”
But Ms Crouch argued that Vestas’ manufacturing facility was for the offshore wind market and would not impact onshore.
Shepway Green Party also criticised the Tory MPs for opposing onshore wind farms.
Spokesman Martin Whybrow said: “Plenty of studies have concluded that we can meet our energy needs through renewables, as Germany is planning to do.
“A major push for renewables should be combined with greatly improved energy efficiency and reduced high carbon activities in areas such as transport.”
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