A growing political backlash against the advance of wind farms across Britain’s countryside has been given strong support by anti-turbine campaigners in the North East.
Chancellor George Osborne is reported to be in favour of a 25% cut in Government subsidy for onshore wind farms, which some claim would prevent hundreds more being built.
At the same time, Conservative-controlled Lincolnshire County Council is to vote this week on agreeing a presumption against allowing any more wind farms to be built in the county. The National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England have recently spoken out against the number of turbines being built in the countryside, and last week a High Court judge ruled that the right of villagers in the Norfolk Broads to protect their landscape against turbines was more important than the Government’s renewable energy targets.
Last year, the Government proposed cutting subsidies for wind farms under the Renewable Obligation scheme by 10%, but now Mr Osborne is said to be pushing for a reduction of up to 25%.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change confirmed that subsidy levels are set to fall.
Earlier this year more than 100 Conservative MPs wrote to David Cameron calling on him to limit the growth of onshore wind generation by cutting the £400m subsidies.
Yesterday the latest moves were supported by Coun Glen Sanderson, deputy leader of the Tory group on Northumberland County Council.
He recently submitted a notice of motion calling for an urgent public consultation with a view to tougher controls on new wind farm developments in the county. “The figures show that wind turbines are generating huge profits via the subsidy from the taxpayer, and that is why there is such a clamour to build wind farms,” Coun Sanderson said.
“I would very much like to see the subsidy cut, with some of the savings diverted to energy efficiency measurers and tackling fuel poverty, which is a huge problem in north Northumberland.
“In addition, I would like to see the county council being tougher and more pro-active against new wind farms, in the way that Lincolnshire Council is.
“I am sure that if the people of Northumberland were asked, they would want to see a more assertive view taken on this issue.”
Dr James Lunn, who is leading the campaign against plans to build five massive turbines near the hamlet of Fenrother, north of Morpeth, said: “The numbers just don’t add up.
“The country cannot afford to spend £100bn in the next 20 years on subsidising so-called green energy.
“Any reduction in subsidy is a step in the right direction, and if that means missing some of our carbon reduction targets then so be it.” Juliet Davenport, chief executive of renewable electricity supplier Good Energy accused the Chancellor of putting his personal ambitions before Britain’s energy needs.
“This is a reckless act of political opportunism by a Chancellor keen to boost his popularity among his back bench MPs,” she said.
Meanwhile, Labour councillors in Northumberland say proposals in the Local Government Finance Bill, which comes into force next April, will make it more difficult to resist new wind farms.
The Bill proposes to allow hard-pressed local authorities to retain 100% of the business rates from renewable energy schemes such as wind farms.
Labour group leader, Coun Grant Davey, said councils which allowed more turbines to be built in the countryside will be rewarded by the Government.
“With the Government starving councils of cash, and then releasing a new planning framework where councils have to begin their processes by saying yes, Northumberland will have great difficulty in opposing any renewable energy scheme.”
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