Chancellor George Osborne may be about to sound the death knell for new wind farms in Scotland.
Westminster sources claim he is considering slashing 25 per cent from the £400million a year paid in subsidies to developers of onshore farms.
Scotland has more wind farms than any part of the UK and dozens more in the planning stages could now be trapped on the drawing board, according to industry chiefs.
They warned last night the developments would be ‘killed dead’ as ‘financially unviable’. But anti-wind farm campaigners, unhappy about the effects giant turbines have on the landscape, welcomed the news.
Mr Osborne has been under pressure from Treasury officials and Tory backbenchers to reduce the millions paid from the public purse. The Treasury has already drawn up plans to cut subsidies by 25 per cent.
If Mr Osborne accedes, it will put him on a collision course with Lib Dem colleagues – and Prime Minister David Cameron who promised the ‘greenest government ever’.
Under the proposals, existing wind farms would continue to receive the same ‘financial assistance’ but those that come on stream after April 1, 2013, would get much less.
That would have a ‘massive impact’, according to Niall Stuart of Scottish Renewables. ‘ This would be short sighted, a blow to investors’ confidence which would make them think twice,’ he said. ‘It will also have a disproportionate impact on small developments that create jobs.’
Rob Norris of RenewableUK said: ‘It could kill the industry. The suggestion of a swingeing cut of 25 per cent could have a highly detrimental effect. Developers will do the maths and decide it is financially unviable. There is a serious danger it could kill off projects across the UK.
‘It is difficult to understand why this is happening.’
The Prime Minister has been petitioned by 100 Tory MPs demanding an end to huge amounts of money flowing from the public purse. A spokesman for Communities Against Turbines Scotland said: ‘Developers of wind farms want the subsidies. They are not concerned with the environment.
‘Even the smallest turbines, the ones favoured by farmers, receive £17,000 a year in subsidies and produce around £1,000 worth of electricity. The big wind farms receive millions. How can we have economic growth if our energy costs so much?’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We lead the world in renewable energy, which is bringing in jobs and investment. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing recently welcomed publication of the draft UK Energy Bill, which outlines a statutory role for Scottish ministers.’
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