Subsidies for wind farms will be axed, David Cameron said – potentially scaling back development in County Durham, a wind power ‘hotspot’.
In an eve-of-conference interview, the prime minister revealed he did not want to keep the subsidies for “a second longer than they’re necessary”.
The move appeared to be in response to Ed Miliband’s eye-catching pledge to freeze energy bills for 20 months, from 2015, to tackle a “cost of living crisis”.
Critics claim the so-called ‘renewables obligation’ – which subsidises wind farms – piles £23 on each household bill.
But scrapping subsidies would be bitterly criticised by environmental campaigners, who argue the expansion of wind farms is crucial to cutting carbon emissions.
That includes in County Durham, which – on one calculation – has the second highest concentration of wind turbines in England, after Cornwall.
More than 20 farms have been built, or have permission, with another 13 in planning – and a controversial 24-turbine development earmarked for The Isles near Newton Aycliffe.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron 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.
“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.”
E.ON recently agreed to reduce the output of The Isles wind farm from 63.5 megawatts (mw) to 48mw, which means it will be decided by local planners, rather than the Government.
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