New Energy Secretary Ed Davey has warned wind turbine opponents that arguments over the impact on picturesque landscapes will never win him over.
In an interview with The Journal Mr Davey disagreed with those opposed to wind farms in place across Northumberland, saying that while it is not his place to say what people should like, critics had to realise “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
His comments come after his predecessor Chris Huhne came to the region and said he believed wind turbines were “beautiful”, saying they could provide the same tourism benefits as historic windmills do in his constituency.
Asked about Mr Huhne’s controversial comments, Mr Davey said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I don’t want to tell people they are beautiful or not but the key issue is that we need to have onshore wind power so we are not dependant upon importing oil and gas.”
Mr Davey went on to say that the argument for wind farms had to move past the older disagreements over appearance as the coalition was fully committed to increasing the percentage of the UK’s energy generated by wind turbines.
Speaking at the Liberal Democrat spring conference at the Sage Gateshead, Mr Davey went on to say the previous Labour Government had a shameful record on environmental issues.
He told The Journal: “Under Labour there were a number of wind farms opened and the turbines that were built were all manufactured abroad, that is increasingly not the case, and Labour totally mismanaged the renewable energy sector.
“Now we are seen as the best place to invest in renewable energy in the world.”
Some in the North East have recently expressed concern that there were no financial incentives available to help bring major turbine manufacturers to the region, and that investment is stalling as a result.
“These investments are not made overnight, people have to think long and hard about them,” said Mr Davey. “Companies are making decisions covering the next 15,20,25 years and more, so you have to understand that takes time.
“Nick Clegg visited Siemens here and he saw that there are jobs in the industry here in Newcastle and I think Newcastle is very well placed to be a major employer of people in the renewable energy industry in the future.
“And the city programme we have set up, which Newcastle is a very big part of, and Newcastle’s ask in its vision to Government includes huge amounts in local carbon and the green agenda. I welcome that and we want Newcastle to succeed here.”