The Tory energy minister has condemned the “peppering” of wind farms across the countryside, insisting: “Enough is enough.”
In remarks bound to inflame coalition tensions, John Hayes said the spread of turbines “seems extraordinary” and they should no longer be “imposed on communities”.
He revealed he has ordered a new analysis of the case for onshore wind power, saying policy should not be based on a “bourgeois Left article of faith”.
The intervention will delight scores of Conservative MPs who have been urging David Cameron to block further expansion of onshore wind farms, but infuriate Liberal Democrats.
Mr Hayes, who was appointed to the brief in last month’s reshuffle, is believed to support a moratorium on new onshore wind farms. Energy Secretary Ed Davey was reportedly so concerned about his new deputy’s views on the issue that he acted to limit his responsibilities.
Quoted in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, Mr Hayes said: “We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities. I can’t single-handedly build a new Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land. We have issued a call for evidence on wind. That is about cost but also about community buy-in. We need to understand communities’ genuine desires. We will form our policy in the future on the basis of that, not on a bourgeois Left article of faith based on some academic perspective.”
He insisted only a minority of proposed wind turbines were needed to meet green targets set by the Government. “If you look at what has been built, what has consent and what is in the planning system, much of it will not get through and will be rejected. Even if a minority of what’s in the system is built, we are going to reach our 2020 target,” Mr Hayes said. “I’m saying enough is enough.”
The minister said new research on wind turbines would make a far wider assessment of their impact on the rural landscape and property prices.
“I have asked the planning minister to look again at the relationship between these turbines and the landscape,” he said. “It seems extraordinary to have allowed them to be peppered around the country without due regard for the interests of the local community or their wishes.”
Mr Hayes said the impact of onshore wind farms on environments had been “neglected” and renewable energy needed “genuine community support”. He added: “The salience of aesthetics to discussions about renewables has often been neglected. All that we do must be sensitive to local environments.”
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