The Coalition is putting an end to the “never-ending gravy train of green subsidies” in a bid to bring down energy bills, the climate change minister has said.
Greg Barker, a senior Conservative, said it was right to keep a tighter control on the cost of environmental costs but insisted the idea that the party is “abandoning its green pledges could not be further from the truth”.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, he acknowledged the green industry needed to “tighten their belts, do more for less and make subsidies go further” to get a better deal for the taxpayer. Mr Barker promised the Coalition would “cut subsidy where we can and put value for money at the heart of our policies”.
His comments come as the Government is faces mounting criticism for sending out mixed messages on energy policy and climate change. Some companies are concerned after David Cameron appointed two ministers who are critical of wind farms, cut subsidies for renewables and unveiled a wave of tax breaks for the gas industry.
The insulation industry also claims the Coalition’s decision to end grants for green home improvements will lead to 16,000 job losses before a new regime comes in next year.
Seven power firms this week threatened to quit the UK over fears they will not get enough Government support to invest in low-carbon technologies like nuclear and wind farms.
Yesterday, Owen Paterson, the new Environment Secretary, fanned these flames by saying wind farms “risk upsetting the delicate balance” of life in the countryside.
“We must ensure that the right measures are deployed in the right places to deliver the right results,” he said.
He warned renewable developments can upset communities and promised to make sure this is taken into account when subsidies for wind farms are put up for review.
“In my part of the world, local residents – 300 of whom turned up at a public meeting last week – are concerned about the impact of proposed wind farm pylons on their communities,” he told the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
“Nearby, dairy farmers are being outbid for land by those who want to grow maize specifically for anaerobic digestion. These are the unintended consequences of renewable technology.
“They risk upsetting the delicate balance of interests that underpins our living, working countryside.”
At the conference, John Hayes, the new energy minister, also said turbines and pylons are an intrusion on the countryside.
After months of weeks of division on green issues, Conservative sources said there is a new push within the party to “get back on the same page”.
Conservatives are currently split between pro-green modernisers, those worried about the cost of subsidies and backbench MPs angry about the blight of wind farms in their constituencies.
The senior source said there would be a drive re-invent the Conservatives’ green agenda as a pro-business policy that will help boost growth and create jobs.
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