Thousands more wind turbines will be built in the countryside if Labour wins the next election, the party has secretly promised the industry.
Labour has publicly declared that it is “technology neutral” on the question of how to meet Britain’s legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, senior Labour figures have assured onshore wind farm companies that there will be a substantial increase in the number of turbines and that new projects will continue to attract subsidies.
Mike Parker, the head of onshore wind at RWE Innogy UK, one of the biggest wind farm companies, said that he had found “very strong support for onshore wind in one-to-one conversations” with key Labour and Liberal Democrat figures. “It gives me confidence to continue with what we are doing,” he added. Mr Parker declined to name the people he had met, saying that the meetings were private.
David Cameron promised last month to “get rid of the subsidy” for new onshore wind farms. Giving evidence to the chairmen of select committees, he said: “We are heading for around 10 per cent of our electricity coming from onshore wind. In my view, that is enough as part of a balanced energy supply.”
There are more than 4,700 onshore turbines operating, 600 under construction and 2,900 with planning permission and awaiting construction.
Labour’s publicly stated position on onshore wind is that it is the “cheapest large-scale form of renewable energy . . . supported by over two thirds of the public, so it makes no sense to impose an arbitrary cap.”
A Labour spokesman denied that its policy was likely to result in thousands more wind turbines.
He said: “There are a number of ways you could decarbonise the power sector. Onshore wind is one, but there are other renewable technologies like solar, as well as nuclear power, and carbon capture and storage, all of which will have an important role.”
RenewableUK, the wind industry trade body, has accused Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, of interfering in the planning process to block wind farms. Mr Pickles has intervened in 52 onshore projects since June 2013. He has taken decisions on 26 of these, refusing 23 and approving three.
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