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Turbines subsidies to ‘disappear’

Financial support for onshore wind turbines and solar panels will have “disappeared” within eight years, a government minister has claimed.

Payments worth around £1.5billion are paid out to producers of renewable energy in Britain each year.

However, in correspondence sent by Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin to a disgruntled constituent, he said he expected all subsidies to be scrapped by 2020.

The UK government has already announced plans to reduce support by 10%.

Last night, the Scottish Government said it had no plans to further cut its subsidies, with the power to set levels of support of renewables devolved.

In response to an e-mail sent by Terry Stewart, president of the Dorset branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England in which he complained about plans for 160 wind turbines in the area, Mr Letwin said the 10% cut was only the start.

“I anticipate that subsidies for both solar photovoltaic and onshore wind will come down to zero over the next few years and should have disappeared by 2020, since both of these forms of energy are gradually becoming economic without the need for subsidies,” he replied.

Under the current subsidy system, electricity companies have to buy power from onshore windfarms at twice the market price.

This 100% subsidy is passed on in household bills.

According to government figures, rising prices because of these subsidies are forcing up to 50,000 households every year into fuel poverty.

Earlier this year, more than 100 Tory MPs wrote to David Cameron to express serious concerns over the level of taxpayers’ money going to the sector.

In the north-east, a battle has raged over onshore wind power, after more than 800 similar applications for wind turbines were lodged in Aberdeenshire in little over a year – more than the rest of Scotland combined.

The council’s infrastructure committee chairman, Peter Argyle, called for a six-month freeze on new developments after the local authority was left “overwhelmed” by requests.

US property magnate Donald Trump is also campaigning against wind power in Scotland after plans were revealed to build an offshore windfarm off the coast of his Menie Estate golf resort.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said last night it was “not aware of any evidence to support a further cut than that proposed”.