‘Bribes for wind farms’: neighbourhoods that accept turbines to be rewarded with playgrounds and cheaper bills
Communities will be “bribed” with rewards such as new playgrounds for accepting wind farms under plans by the Energy Secretary to revive the green agenda.
Ed Davey, a senior Liberal Democrat, will lay out proposals to encourage more onshore farms despite George Osborne’s efforts to stop the march of heavily-subsidised wind turbines across the countryside.
The minister will announce a “call for evidence” this week to look at whether wind developers should give financial incentives to towns and villages near turbines.
Some companies already do this, especially in Scotland, but Mr Davey is looking at whether it should be “best practice” for all wind developers to offer rewards such as local amenities or cheaper energy bills.
The idea has been championed by Tim Yeo, the chairman of the energy committee, who has said ministers must be “prepared to bribe” local communities.
“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,” he said earlier this year.
The plan is unlikely to mollify the group of more than 100 Conservative MPs who wrote an open letter objecting to the wave of costly and unsightly wind projects in the British countryside.
However, Mr Davey is hoping the incentives might appeal directly to local communities.
A Whitehall source said: “We are not deaf to the controversy around onshore wind. Indeed we are sensitive to it. We don’t want communities to feel that onshore wind is damaging their way of life, rather that they are playing a vital role in meeting the national need for secure, clean energy.
“And we certainly don’t want hostility from communities to local onshore wind farms to poison a wider debate that is critical to the UK’s energy security.”
Mr Davey recently won a battle with the Chancellor to make sure subsidies for onshore wind farms are only cut by 10 per cent, rather than 25 per cent.
However, Mr Osborne secured a £500 million tax break for North Sea gas companies as part of a plan to get more of Britian’s energy from gas.
At the moment there are more than 3,000 onshore wind turbines, generating just three per cent of total electricity.
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