Climate change minister Greg Barker, the MP for Bexhill, believes the need for more onshore wind farms has blown itself out, and has said there will be no significant expansion of turbines on land beyond those already approved.
Mr Barker has veered away from previous policy after an announcement by his department that Britain could expect up to 10,000 more land turbines to be constructed provoked an outcry among his fellow Conservative MPs.
More than 100 Tory backbenchers wrote to prime minister David Cameron, branding wind farms “inefficient” and challenging the scale of subsidies paid to the industry.
Last weekend the Sunday Times, in an interview with Mr Barker, learned that he believed there had been an “unbalanced” approach to wind farms in the past so that other power-producing options must now be explored.
Mr Barker’s former boss, ex-energy secretary Chris Huhne (Lib Dem) championed wind power and in December last year called for up to 32,000 more huge propellers to be erected – a third of them onshore.
With the UK currently having some 3,000 onshore turbines and several hundred out to sea, the effect on Britain’s landscape would have been dramatic. But Mr Barker played down the prospect of a further 10,000 onshore turbines, saying that he wants to focus on offshore wind farms.
He said the economic downturn had forced the coalition government to change its approach to green issues to gain better value for money. He told the Sunday Times: “There is a requirement to rethink the economics of green.
“We have to have a more nuanced and sophisticated policy – reducing costs quicker, looking to commercialise sooner and thinking more carefully about the use of public subsidy.”
Michael Bernard, chairman of Bexhill Environmental Group, said: “I find this very concerning.
“The government has already gone back on its deal regarding solar panels, and I wonder how it is going to meet its targets for reducing Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.”
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