Conservative party promise to halt “disease” of windfarms across Devon countryside if they win election
The Conservative party has promised to halt the “disease” of windfarms across Devon if they win the election.
The Tories have said they will axe public subsidies for any newly-planned onshore turbines and give local councils the power to block new schemes if they win the 2015 ballot.
While one MP said rural communities in the Westcountry would be “rejoicing” that the wind energy “disease” could be cured, a green power industry champion warned the move would be “a major mistake” for the region.
Geoffrey Cox, Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon, a long-standing campaigner against “ghastly white gigantic monsters” causing “vandalism” in the countryside, welcomed the manifesto pledge and accused the Liberal Democrats of preventing action even earlier.
Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey, though, has warned scaling-back wind farms will be “disastrous for business and jobs”.
The Conservatives believe the proposals, which would be put in place within six months of a Tory win, would “effectively curtail further large-scale onshore wind developments”.
Across the region, around 100 large-scale turbines have already been erected at “farms” including Delabole in Cornwall and Fullabrook in Devon, but there are scores more of the smaller single turbines. Councils in the South West are receiving applications for more of both types of development.
Mr Cox said the Tory promise was a “solid commitment to rid the countryside of these monstrosities”.
He added: “This will be a source rejoicing in large and small rural communities that could be affected. We do need to stop those that have been proposed now, because they are a disease and blight on the countryside. But that is being blocked by the Liberal Democrats on the basis of political gesturism.
“Wind has had its day. They have been lining the pockets of a few, and are ineffective, while turning thousands against efforts to tackle carbon emissions and climate change.”
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen South West, said he was disappointed with the move and described ending onshore wind as “a major mistake for this part of the world”.
“Onshore wind power is the cheapest, most proven and widely installed technology around the world,” he added.
“Last year this clean and secure form of renewable energy was the single largest form of electricity generation in Spain –Mr Putin may be able to turn off the gas pipe but he can’t switch off the British wind.
“We have not seen the detail of what is being proposed but stopping the development of onshore wind would have bad consequences in the South West where it promises to be a cost-effective energy source.
“The level of investment the industry requires has been dropping and will continue to do so – reducing subsidy needs to be done sensibly, step by step, in line with current policy.”
Earlier this month, Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party chairman, told the Western Morning News that wind turbines were no longer “environmentally friendly “, and suggested the Tories will pledge to curb onshore wind power in their manifesto.
Last month, the WMN also revealed onshore wind turbines in the countryside receive £557 million each year from energy bill payers, and offshore farms off the coast get £699 million. It means a typical ten-turbine land-based wind farm could pocket developers £2 million a year.
The 4,000 existing onshore wind turbines deliver power to four million homes. A further 3,000, for which planning permission has been given, will deliver power to three million more by 2020.
Under the proposals existing wind farms and those already granted planning permission would be protected from the changes.
Tory Energy Minister Mr Fallon said there would be enough to meet 2020 emissions targets set by the European Union – meaning any further developments should not be subsidised.
He said: “We now have enough billpayer-funded onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments.
“That’s why the next Conservative government will end any additional billpayer subsidy for onshore wind, and give local councils the decisive say on any new wind farms.”
Lib Dem Cabinet minister Mr Davey said: “We have already fought the Conservatives over capping onshore wind in this Government – and won.
“Putting the brakes on onshore wind would be disastrous for business and jobs in our growing green economy. Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of green energy, so cutting it could lead to higher bills.”
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