The Duke of Edinburgh has criticised onshore wind farms as “absolutely useless”, while the Prince of Wales is known to believe that they are a “horrendous blot on the landscape”.
Backers of the huge turbines can, however, turn to the Duke of York for support. Mandrake learns that Prince Andrew held a meeting at Buckingham Palace last week with senior officials from the Crown Estate to discuss the expansion of its wind farms programme.
“The Duke sees renewables as an important opportunity for the UK,” confirms his spokesman.
From January, the Royal family will receive 15 per cent of the profits of the Crown Estate as a Sovereign Grant. It will replace their Civil List payments and various “grants in aid”.
The Queen and other members of the family do not have any say over how the estate makes its money.
Last year, the estate, which owns property on behalf of the Crown, posted record annual profits of £231 million. Roger Bright, the organisation’s chief executive, said its rental income could grow by more than £200 million by 2020 if proposed wind farms and gas storage facilities were built.
The Duke announced last summer that he would step down from his role as Britain’s trade envoy. His reputation had been damaged by disclosures about his links to controversial businessmen.
“This meeting covered wind, tidal and carbon storage, among other things,” says his spokesman.
In 2010, the Crown Estate approved an increase in the number of wind farm sites around the coast of England. It owns nearly all of the seabed off Britain’s 7,700-mile coastline. Last week, a government report warned that Britain’s coastlines were in danger from such turbines.
It found that Britain was not imposing sufficiently strong protections around the coast and called for key areas to be designated as protection zones so planners would know where wind farms cannot be built. Campaigners claim that they threaten wildlife, spoil sea views and can hinder tourism.
Almost 300 wind turbines will be built offshore in Britain this year, adding to a total of 3,500. By 2020, the industry wants 4,300 offshore turbines to help Britain meet its target to cut carbon emissions in half.
Last November, Prince Philip said onshore wind farms were “a disgrace”. He criticised the industry’s reliance on subsidies from electricity customers, claimed the turbines would “never work” and accused people who support them of believing in a “fairy tale”. Prince Charles has refused to have any built on Duchy of Cornwall land.
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