A Government decision to cut subsidies for onshore windfarms in favour of more turbines out at sea was today described by Ukip as “nonsensical and frankly dangerous”.
Ukip’s Roger Helmer MEP said the Government’s energy policy still made no sense.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced today state help for onshore wind and solar energy was being reduced “slightly” in favour of offshore wind.
Mr Alexander said the switch in favour of offshore wind was based on “value for money” and could open the way for an extra 10 gigawatts of energy by 2020, according to Government estimates.
Some political commentators the Government’s policy change was as a result of pressure from Ukip.
Roger Helmer, Ukip’s energy spokesman, dismissed the announcement as a “political stunt” and reiterated his party’s long-standing opposition to subsidised on-shore wind farms.
He said: “This cut in subsidies for on-shore wind farms is a political stunt by a Government desperate to appease the large numbers of voters sick of turbines despoiling the British countryside.
“But it fails to address the real argument which is the nonsensical and frankly dangerous energy policy this Government is forcing upon UK taxpayers.
“The argument is not simply an aesthetic one, there is a real economic debate to be had especially in the light of the atrocious increases in energy prices that are pushing more and more people into fuel poverty and risking the lives of thousands of people when we are about to enter one of the coldest winters on record.
“The truth is the taxpayer, while they may not have to gaze out of their kitchen window at a blight of turbines, is still footing the bill both directly and through energy price rises for this wasteful and downright ridiculous technology to be built out of sight.”
Rural wind farms have been a source of coalition tension, with many senior Conservatives staunchly opposed to the turbines, which Lib Dems say are needed to meet environmental objectives.
It is feared by Tory activists to be an issue on which they are losing support to the Ukip.
Green Party’s Energy Spokesperson Andrew Cooper accused the Government of being “lead by the nose on energy policy by unscientific climate change deniers many of whom are in UKIP and the Conservative Party.”
He said: “This sort of knee jerk policy change by Government undermines investment and business confidence in the renewables sector which employs thousands of people in skilled jobs in the UK.
“It also means we are one of the few countries in Europe which looks set to fail to achieve our renewable energy target which is a national disgrace and a huge embarrassment to ‘the Greenest Government Ever’”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Alexander denied today’s announcement was a politically-inspired move.
He said: “I believe passionately in meeting this country’s obligations to tackle climate change and meeting our environmental commitments.
“But we should be doing so in the most cost-effective way we can and we should also be making sure that industries where the UK has a vast potential, like offshore wind, get the support they need really to take off.”
RenewableUK, an umbrella trade association for the wind and tide energy industries, welcomed the increase in subsidies for off-shore wind farms.
Deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “It sends an important political signal that the Government recognises the need to back this sector, if we are to attract big wind turbine manufacturers to the UK to open up factories creating tens of thousands of jobs.
“Obviously any reduction in support for onshore wind is unwelcome, and the Government had promised that any drop would be based purely on economic evidence.”
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