The energy department attempted to derail a series of planning reforms designed to allow locals to block wind farms, The Telegraph can disclose.
Officials at the Department for Energy and Climate Change – run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat – intervened earlier this year as Eric Pickles prepared to rewrite planning guidance to give residents the power to veto turbines.
It emerged last month that Mr Davey’s department also tried to suppress a report commissioned by Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, on the impact of wind farms on the countryside.
The disclosure that his department sought to control policy in a second Whitehall department indicates the scale of the split in the Coalition over wind turbines.
Mr Davey used his speech at the Lib Dem party conference to accuse Conservative opponents of wind farms of living in the “Stone Age”.
He singled out Mr Paterson and accused the Environment Secretary of trying to “cull” wind turbines.
In June, Mr Pickles issued new planning rules to allow residents to block wind farms.
The Conservatives claimed it would effectively end the spread of the controversial turbines which have been blamed for blighting picturesque landscapes.
Under Mr Pickles’ reforms, residents have to be consulted over new wind farms, with applications barred if there is significant opposition.
Officials now have to take into account topography and the impact on “views” and historic sites.
Mr Davey and his officials were “extremely unhappy” about the changes to the planning guidance and “tried to cause problems”, government sources said last night.
“They don’t like the new guidance at all but our position is that because it involves planning and is a quasi-judicial process, that’s kind of tough. Legally we can do what we want on this,” the source said.
The Telegraph understands that Mr Pickles will again defy Mr Davey over turbines in the coming weeks by announcing plans to tighten up planning rules to ensure that councils allow locals to have their say. “It will just happen,” the source said. “We do not need Ed Davey’s permission.”
A source close to Mr Davey said that “it is no secret that there are constant battles over onshore wind” in the Coalition.
Mr Davey has given warning that Mr Paterson’s report on turbines would be “partial” and potentially inaccurate.
“Take the battles I fight over wind power,” Mr Davey said in his conference speech. “Owen Paterson would cull wind turbines faster than he can cull badgers. We have prevented the Stone Age wing of the Conservative Party from destroying our leading renewables industry.”
The Energy Secretary also used his speech to contradict David Cameron over fracking, saying that it was wrong to suggest it “answers all Britain’s energy problems”.
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