Ed Davey has banned John Hayes, a new energy minister, from making remarks about the spread of wind farms after he told newspapers, “enough is enough”.
A deepening Coalition rift over Britain’s energy policy has emerged, after a Tory minister called an end to wind farms “peppered” all over the countryside.
Last night, John Hayes, a new energy minister, told newspapers that the spread of wind farms across the countryside will be brought to a halt as “enough is enough”.
However, Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary and a senior Liberal Democrat, does not share this point of view and banned Mr Hayes from making similar remarks in a speech at a renewable energy conference in Glasgow.
Mr Davey is today expected to claim there has been no change in Government policy, as wind farm developers anxiously called on him to clear up the mixed messages.
Sources close to the Energy Secretary said Mr Hayes has “over-reached himself” and has no power to decide policy.
But Mr Hayes, a known sceptic about wind farms, was appointed by the Prime Minister in the recent re-shuffle, fuelling speculation hism views are backed at senior levels within the Conservative Party.
Tory opposition to wind farms has already caused a major row this year with the Liberal Democrats, after 100 backbenchers wrote to George Osborne, the Chancellor, demanding a cut to subsidies.
In outspoken comments, Mr Hayes last night went further in his condemnation of Britain’s thousands of turbines.
He said we can “no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities” and added that it “seems extraordinary” they have allowed to spread so much throughout the country.
The energy minister said he had ordered a new analysis of the case for onshore wind power which would form the basis of future government policy, rather than “a bourgeois Left article of faith based on some academic perspective”.
Mr Hayes is understood to believe that there should be a moratorium on new onshore wind farms, bringing a halt to the construction of around 4,000 turbines set to be built across Britain in the coming years.
This morning, RenewableUK, a renewable energy lobby group, called for “urgent clarification after negative comments on wind energy were made by John Hayes in some of this morning’s papers”.
The group said his comments were markedly different from those made to 400 industry delegates at the RenewableUK annual conference last night.
Maf Smith, the group’s deputy chief executive, said: “As the wind industry meets in Glasgow to celebrate the success of this industry, it comes as some surprise that the new minister has said one thing to us and another to the press.
“We are on the eve of the publication of the Energy Bill, a crucial time for energy policy, with huge investment decisions to be made that will lead to tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade. If we are to see these jobs and investment realised confidence must be retained and that means consistency.”
The comments also angered environmental groups. Leila Deen, Greenpeace energy campaigner, said Mr Hayes “petulant outburst adds to the Coalition’s growing energy shambles and to a deepening divide within Government between those who care about green growth and the economy and those who just want more oil and gas”.
She added: “Here is a new minister veering off brief and publicly contradicting his bosses. His comments threaten jobs and his approach will drive up energy bills.
“Mr Cameron needs to take charge, decide who’s side he’s on and reassure industry and investors that John Hayes won’t go over their heads.”
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