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Rural impact of electricity infrastructure to be reviewed

The government is conducting an inquiry into the impact of electricity infrastructure on rural areas.

It is being carried out by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate change (Decc) and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Both departments deny reports that the study has caused a row between them, despite issuing contradictory comments about wind power recently.

The new report may offer a clearer idea of the future of onshore wind power.

The report will cover the whole range of renewable energy in the UK countryside, including wind turbines, pylons, hydroelectricity, solar energy and wave power. I understand it won’t consider shale gas fracking.

Renewable energy projects have proved divisive in some rural communities, with a small number of landowners getting rich on turbines – and a larger number of local people complaining about property prices going down and holidaymakers staying away.

The report, which covers the whole of the UK, will ask if anything more needs to be done to ensure that local people are compensated for wind farms on their doorstep.

A spokesman for Decc told BBC News: “We need to ensure that energy is generated in a way that is sustainable and understands the effects that different technologies have on the environment and on communities across the country.

“Decc and Defra are working together on this report, which is not yet complete, to ensure that it meets the usual standards and quality assurances that you would expect from any government publication.”

Onshore wind energy is a tense issue between the two departments involved.

Decc, run by the Lib Dem Ed Davey, is expecting to more or less double the amount of turbines between now and 2020.

Government figures show onshore wind to be much the cheapest way of meeting renewable energy targets and Decc says affordability of energy is essential.

But the Conservative Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says some people consider wind farms a complete scam – and the prime minister recently said he didn’t expect many more wind farms in the British countryside.