David Cameron has indicated subsidies for turbines will be axed, potentially halting the march of wind farms in the Westcountry.
The Prime Minister, who was previously anxious to burnish his green credentials, told the Sunday Telegraph he did not want to keep the hand-outs – paid for through energy bills – for “a second longer than they’re necessary”.
In an interview on the eve of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, he appeared to be responding to Ed Miliband’s promise last week to freeze energy bills for 20 months if Labour sweeps to power in 2015.
Opponents claim the “renewables obligation”, which subsidises wind farms and other green technology, adds £23 to each household bill.
The coalition Government has already scaled back wind farm subsidies, but the Prime Minster appeared to be going further.
He said: “What we’ve done in energy is try to make sure there is a balance of different technologies to give us a balanced energy supply. We do need some of these new renewable technologies and that’s why there are subsidies, but we shouldn’t have those for a second longer than they’re necessary.”
On wind farms specifically, which have divided communities across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset because they are seen as a blot on the countryside, the Prime Minister indicated offshore wind was more preferable to onshore.
He said: “Recently, I opened the London Array, the biggest offshore wind farm anywhere in the world, and it’s good that Britain is leading the way in this technology. But as I say, you shouldn’t keep the subsidies for any longer than is necessary.”
In a round of interviews, Mr Cameron denounced Labour leader Ed Miliband’s plan for an energy price freeze as “nuts”, warning: “Bashing and taxing business is going to cost us jobs, set us back and make sure our economy is weaker.”
And he ruled out a mansion tax if he remains Prime Minister after the 2015 general election, in what could be a major “red line” to any renewed coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats. The Prime Minister also confirmed that he is not planning post-election tax rises.
Positive economic indicators meant the Prime Minister’s party was in relatively buoyant mood as it gathered under the slogan “For Hardworking People”, which was displayed on every possible surface in the Manchester Central conference centre.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was heckled during his speech by retired army colonel Ian Brazier, who called him a disgrace for cut backs to his former regiment, the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment Fusiliers.
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