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CATS slams latest wind industry propaganda

Scottish pressure group Communities Against Turbines Scotland has dismissed a DECC report claiming that there is a strong economic case for increased onshore wind development as the desperate propaganda of an industry in crisis.

It says turbines destroy jobs, discourage investment and depress property values, while subsiding wind energy inflates electricity costs and damages business and jobs across the UK. Studies by the EU and World Bank show that the net effect of ‘green’ job creation is a significant loss in jobs.

The study of 18 wind farms across the country by the industry body RenewableUK and the Department of Energy and Climate Change claimed communities benefited from onshore wind turbines to the tune of £84m in 2011, with 1,100 local jobs supported by the sector.

A spokesman for CATS said the study which was carried out by BiGGAR Economics, 0private consulting firm, uses figures and arguments that a child could see through.

“What does ’support‘ jobs mean? It certainly doesn’t mean that lasting new jobs are created, because wind farms are automated – they are usually deserted. Onshore wind development cannot take the credit for jobs created by upgrading infrastructure because this has to take place anyway for hydro, wave, tidal and offshore electricity.”

“People are temporarily employed in planning and building wind farms but the construction jobs often go to foreign labour gangs.”

“Some say wind farm construction ‘supports’ local jobs because local firms get contracts and local businesses drum up trade from building workers. But these are fleeting crumbs of comfort. Once the wind farm is up, local businesses – especially tourism – will suffer.”

The report uses a ratio of around 15 jobs per MW to estimate current jobs but then adopts the same ratio to estimate jobs all the way up to 2020. But much of the employment in wind today is focused on deployment – BiGGAR admits there will be a big shift from deployment to operation – so the number of jobs needed to build will be several times higher than those needed to operate. In other the report has overestimated the 2020 jobs position by around 700-800%.

Dr John Constable, Director of REF, a UK charity publishing data on the energy sector said:

“The renewables industry is very heavily subsidised, so it’s not surprising that it seems to employ many people. But these are ‘soft’ jobs, dependent on artificial economic conditions. They will disappear like a puff of smoke if the policy changes, and it may have to change because we simply can’t afford the subsidies.”

“Moreover, the likelihood is that the cost of renewables subsidies will destroy more jobs in the real economy than it creates in the renewables sector.”

“The renewables sector is very largely an expensive, indeed an unaffordable, government job creation scheme.”

According to Susan Crosthwaite of CATS, “Wind power is harming every business in the UK. The massive cost of subsiding wind power will send electricity costs soaring. British firms will be undercut by foreign businesses that pay lower energy costs. Rising electricity bills will mean domestic consumers have less to spend on goods and services. Recently the Chemical Industries Association said that if the UK government doesn’t shield its companies from rising electricity costs, the industry will go overseas.”

While the Treasury has been accused of not backing the drive to develop clean energy sources, the report says the technology generates £198m a year in taxes, rising to £373m if the Government presses ahead with plans to treble the level of wind farms, contributing a projected total of £780m to the UK. CATS commented: “Economists we have consulted have shuddered at how the Exchequer calculations in the report could have passed the scrutiny of DECC. They have include all the taxes paid but none of the subsidies received. By any measure known to mankind the onshore wind industry is a net recipient from the exchequer rather than a contributor. This section of the report is misleading in the extreme. “CATS said they would like to know how precisely the report was commissioned, the role of Renewables UK in the process and how BiGGAR Economics, a very small company without a great track record in renewable energy research, was selected.

“Government reports should be objective and independent, not bankrolled by industry lobbyists and written to order by a company that takes the wind industry’s shilling. The BiGGAR report is propaganda cobbled together by lobbyists desperate to hang onto lucrative subsidies funded by taxpayers, and those in the government fighting tooth and nail for wind turbine toryism.”

“This report adds nothing to the public debate. It serves only to show the cosy you-scratch-my-back relationship between the industry and Whitehall. The developers get fat public subsidies to plant more wind farms, and the government can greenwash itself. The losers are energy consumers and people who live in the shadow of industrial wind turbines.”

“Ed Davey clearly hasn’t got a grip at the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The country is crying out for an energy policy that makes scientific and economic sense.”