Calls for a big reduction in Government subsidies for wind farms have been resisted – provoking a mixed reaction from anti-turbine campaigners in the region.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change announced yesterday that the huge Government subsidy for new onshore wind projects – which is paid for through consumers’ energy bills – will be cut by 10% from next year.
The decision comes in the wake of recent reports which suggested that Chancellor George Osborne was pressing for a 25% cut in subsidy, following a call by more than 100 Conservative MPs for action to curb wind farm development.
Yesterday one leading North East campaigner against the spread of turbines branded the size of the cut disappointing – but said he believes the Government is “beginning to sound the death knell for onshore wind”.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey announced reductions in subsidies for both onshore and offshore wind, but increased support for energy generation through tidal stream and wave power, and biomass. He said this would boost clean electricity while curbing the cost to consumers, and claimed the moves could prompt investment of between £20bn and £25bn in the economy between 2013 and 2017.
The new subsidy level for onshore wind is guaranteed until 2014, but will be reviewed.
And it could be reduced further, depending on how generating costs change.
Yesterday Cornhill farmer Andrew Joicey, of the Save Our Unspoilt Landscape group, said the announcement followed a disagreement between the Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change over the level of subsidy for wind farms.
He said: “The 10% reduction comes with a condition that if the cost of wind installations reduces, as it has done with solar, then the Government can review it again.
“I find the reduction disappointing, but when you study the whole announcement I feel it is beginning to sound the death knell for the onshore wind industry.”
Dr James Lunn, who is part of a group fighting plans to build five giant wind turbines at Fenrother near Morpeth, said: “A 10% cut is a disappointing amount but a step in the right direction.
“It is a start, but I believe we need to reduce subsidy for onshore wind by 25%.
“My worry about doing it in small steps like this is that it will encourage developers to apply for more wind farms as soon as they can, before the reduction comes in, and lead to a surge in construction.” Mr Davey said the new levels of support would unlock investment decisions and help ensure that rapid growth in renewable energy continues.
“Because value for money is vital, we will bring forward more renewable electricity while reducing the impact on consumer bills between 2013 and 2015, saving £6 off household energy bills next year and £5 the year after.”
Yesterday’s announcement also set out the Government’s backing for gas-powered generation to complement “intermittent” renewables.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “The Government has sunk to pretty low depths now it has turned real UK opportunities for green growth and jobs into an unedifying, inter-department squabble.
“The Energy Secretary and Chancellor will both claim victory on the size of the rate cut for onshore renewables, but the Treasury are calling the tune on all the big shots.
“The Treasury is fighting tooth and nail to oppose a 2030 decarbonisation target, or support for future renewables targets.
“Mr Osborne has rebranded himself Mr Polluting Gas.
“It’s up to Nick Clegg to stick what’s left of Lib Dem principles back into this process.”
It is a start, but I believe we need to reduce subsidy for onshore wind by 25%
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding