Residents should be bribed to accept wind turbines being built in their area, a senior Conservative MP has said.
Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons energy and climate change committee, said that the best way to win public acceptance of new wind farms was direct financial incentives.
He also warned George Osborne, the Chancellor, not to cut the subsidies for onshore turbines.
Wind farms are the subject of increasing debate within the Coalition, not least because of widespread Conservative hostility.
At the moment there are more than 3,000 onshore and more than 500 offshore.
The Coalition’s energy plans suggest that ministers want to more than double onshore wind generation capacity by 2020.
More than 100 Conservative MPs said that they oppose the building of new turbines, which can be up to 450ft tall, saying they are unsightly and inefficient.
Mr Yeo, who is not opposed to wind farms, said that the case for building more was being made badly. I sympathise with people who’ve got a whole big wind farm near your home – you’re bearing the environmental cost personally whereas the benefits are shared among the whole population,” he told BBC Radio 4. In opposition, the Conservatives set out plans for local communities to be given a share of tax revenues from new wind turbines – plans that the Government has said it is enacting.
Mr Yeo said that not enough has been done to deliver clear benefits for residents from wind farms.
He said: “[What] we have to do is work harder to find places where wind farms are acceptable but also, secondly, as this is what we’re not yet doing, be more creative about sharing some of the benefits directly with those local communities. Frankly, we need to be prepared to bribe them.”
Last year, the Coalition proposed cutting the subsidy for onshore wind farms, which comes from household power bills, by 10 per cent.
It also emerged that the Chancellor is pushing for subsidies to be cut by up to 25 per cent.
Mr Osborne’s intervention has irritated Liberal Democrat ministers, who accuse him privately of using energy policy to score political points. Mr Yeo said the Treasury had picked the wrong target for cuts.
The cost of generating power from onshore turbines is less than half the cost of generating power from turbines in the sea, Mr Yeo said.
“I understand the Treasury and George Osborne’s point about the cost to consumers: that’s a very strong concern that we all have, but actually, if you want to cut the cost then slow down the rate of offshore wind but allow onshore to continue,” he said.
Mr Yeo added: “If we shut down all the onshore wind in the country, families would save just £6 a year.”
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