Onshore wind farms provide good value for taxpayers’ money, Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, has said.
Mr Davey defended wind farms after it emerged that the number of turbine projects granted planning permission has more than doubled over the last two years.
Critics of wind farms say they are inefficient and reliant on public subsidies.
Interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Davey was asked if onshore wind turbines provide value for money.
He replied: “Absolutely. They only get paid when they are generating electricity.”
Mr Davey defended subsidies for wind farms, saying: “We have to invest in renewable energy to catch up with the rest of Europe.”
A growing public backlash against green energy levies on household bills, and the spread of wind turbines across the countryside, has led senior Tories to plot radical steps to protect the landscape and cut costs for customers.
Conservative ministers have drawn up a four-point plan to prevent the growth of wind farms and other forms of renewable energy such as solar power plants from blighting the countryside.
David Cameron used last week’s Cabinet reshuffle to promote a leading critic of wind farms, Kris Hopkins, to the post of minister responsible for planning turbine projects.
Senior Conservatives also want to cut “green levies” that add an estimated £110 to customers’ bills.
But they are facing fierce resistance from Nick Clegg, whose Liberal Democrats are blocking attempts to reduce energy bills by withdrawing support for green schemes.
Householders have been warned that they face sharp increases in their heating bills this winter. Last week, the energy giant, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) announced it was increasing prices for customers by 8.2 per cent.
The firm’s chief executive blamed the current system of green energy subsidies, which companies add to household bills, for one third of the increase and demanded a review of the government’s environmental energy strategy.
A typical household gas and electricity bill would fall by £110 overnight if the government paid for loft insulation schemes and green energy subsidies through the tax system instead of extra charges to consumers, the firm said.
Latest figures from Mr Davey’s department showed that the number of new onshore wind farms and smaller turbine developments which have won planning permission is rising dramatically.
Between the beginning of January and the end of August, 188 new onshore wind farms, including large and small developments, were given permission by planning authorities, a 49 per cent increase on the same eight-month period in 2012.
It is also more than double the rate of planning permissions granted for the same period in 2011, when 83 turbine projects were approved.
At the same time the amount of electricity being generated by onshore wind farms has risen by 70 per cent since 2012.
According to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, there has also been a surge in applications for new turbine sites. By the end of August, 597 applications had been received by councils across the UK, DECC results show. This was compared to 470 for the same January-August period last year, and just 203 in 2011.
The total number of applications for planning permission for new onshore wind farms during the year more than doubled between 2011 and 2012, from 365 to 820.
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