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Major wind farm plans face veto

Major new wind farms in the British countryside are to be vetoed by Government Ministers and their subsidies cut back, according to senior Whitehall sources.

The decision comes after more than 100 backbench Conservative MPs voiced their objections turbines blighting rural areas.

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker hinted at a change in policy recently when he said that “all the wind we need in Britain is already being built, developed or in planning”.

“It’s about being balanced and sensible,” he said. “We inherited a policy from the last government which was unbalanced in favour of onshore wind farms.

“There have been some installations in insensitive or unsuitable locations – too close to houses or in areas of outstanding natural beauty.”

Britain already has around 350 wind farms, with approximately 500 more under construction or awaiting planning permission – meaning the number could still double from the current level.

However, it is understood senior Conservatives in the Coalition Government are behind a determination to scale back support for onshore wind power, amid fears the turbines are deeply unpopular in rural areas.

There is also concern that subsidising so many different types of “green” energy is adding too much to energy bills. Senior Conservatives have seen an opportunity to re-think policy since Chris Huhne, the former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, resigned.

The plan could still put the Conservatives on a collision course with the Coalition, as Ed Davey, the new Energy Secretary, is also a Liberal Democrat.

However, it is understood the Department for Energy and Climate Change is already considering how it can keep a lid on more wind farms being developed.

Sources said ministers are prepared to block major developments of onshore wind turbines under the new Localism Act which came into force last month.

They are also ready to reduce the £400 million per year in funding which goes to wind farms under the Renewable Obligation Certificate subsidy. The moves would be popular with the dozens of Conservative MPs fighting against new wind developments in their constituencies.

More than 100 MPs stated in a letter sent to Downing Street in February they have become “more and more concerned” about government “support for onshore wind energy production”.

They went on to say: “In these financially-straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production which typifies onshore wind turbines.”