Wind farms study will be published, Owen Paterson says
Credit: By Peter Dominiczak, Political Correspondent | The Telegraph | 20 August 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk ~~
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A study examining the impact of wind farms on the countryside will be published, the Environment Secretary has pledged.
Owen Paterson said that work is ongoing on an official study that officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have attempted to block.
Coalition sources have said that officials in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat – have attempted to stop the report being written over fears that it could provide confirmation that turbines can harm rural areas.
Mr Paterson has made clear that he intends to make the document public as soon as it is ready.
“We are preparing a report on renewable technologies and the rural environment,” Mr Paterson said.
DECC has insisted that it is working on the report alongside officials in Mr Paterson’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
However, Defra sources have insisted that the energy department will have “nothing to do” with the document.
Defra sources have claimed that figures in Mr Davey’s department are more concerned about “ideology” than scientific evidence and that they are concerned the report would allow people to “challenge the energy solution that they are going after”.
Downing Street has said that the report will be written and will be read with “interest”.
Tory MPs have backed Mr Paterson and called on him to publish his document even if it is against the wishes of DECC.
Glyn Davies, the MP for Montgomeryshire, said: “What they [Defra] are doing is right. They want to look at the impact of onshore wind farms.”
Mr Davies said that he was aware that Mr Paterson had commissioned the report but that he “always knew DECC would try to stop it”.
He added: “It just seems to me that DECC are almost religiously commited to wind farms and will do virtually anything that is within their power to frustrate anything that might impede their progress.”
Mr Davies said that it is “crucial” that the report is published even if Mr Davey “tries to stop it going ahead”. “What do they have to be afraid of?” he added.
Mr Paterson’s report, which has not been completed, is about the impact of all renewable-energy sources on the countryside and on the rural economy.
It is claimed that officials in the energy department have expressed concerns about the “principle of [the] report and what they fear may be documented about some renewables”.
The row comes after a series of Coalition disputes over wind farms. Mr Davey last year slapped down former energy minister John Hayes, a Conservative, after he said that the spread of wind farms across the countryside will be brought to a halt as “enough is enough”.
Caroline Flint, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, said that “Government splits” over wind farms are “putting Britain’s energy security at risk”.
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