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Nick Clegg has blocked a proposal by David Cameron to restrict the construction of onshore windfarms, a Liberal Democrat source has said.
It is understood the prime minister presented Clegg with the plans more than a week ago, which would have put an overall cap on the number of turbines built in the countryside.
However, the deputy prime minister told Cameron on Monday that he would not allow a further assault on onshore windfarms after previous cuts to subsidies for the industry.
The Lib Dem source said Tory claims to be green were now dead in the water.
Clegg agreed to look at the proposal but found absolutely no case for it, especially since the subsidy cuts and felt it could cause damaging uncertainty to the renewable energy industry, the source said.
They added: “Nick Clegg was simply not going to allow the Tories to move the goalposts on green energy again.
“Some sort of crude block towards onshore wind would seriously damage investor confidence in Britain’s energy markets. It would be a double whammy – bad for both British business and for the environment.
“The Liberal Democrats believe in a mixed, diverse green energy future. Capping onshore wind production would leave investors questioning our long-term commitment to all renewable energy sources.
“This would be catastrophic for our growing green economy and the hundreds of thousands of British jobs in it.”
The proposals to cap the number of onshore turbines, first reported by the BBC, come less than a year after the coalition agreed that subsidies for windfarms would last another six years at roughly the current level.
The year before, support for onshore wind was cut by about 10% after the prime minister came under pressure from more than 100 backbench MPs. They wrote to him demanding action against windfarms spoiling the landscape in rural areas.
The government also announced extra planning restrictions, with Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, promising to “give local communities a greater say” on where windfarms were built. However, there were signs some senior Tories were still seeking further action to stop onshore windfarms being built.
In November there were reports from the Sun and the Daily Mail that had Cameron ordered aides to “get rid of all the green crap” from energy bills in a drive to bring down costs.
According to the newspapers, the prime minister used the direct language to dismiss green levies, which go towards paying for renewables and helping the poor cut their energy usage.
At the time, Downing Street denied the “vague” report, saying it did not recognise the language when asked about the phrase “green crap”.
However, officials did not appear to deny the sentiment, pointing out that Cameron has repeatedly promised to roll back green taxes.
The coalition has now scrapped environmental levies amounting to £50 a year per household if the cuts are passed on by energy companies, following concerns about record energy prices.
However, there are fears within the green industry that the government will come under further pressure to cut the levies used to subsidise low-carbon power.
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