Conservative plans to effectively ban new onshore wind farms will lead to higher energy prices for consumers, Tim Yeo, the senior Tory backbencher has claimed.
In a valedictory speech on Thursday, Mr Yeo is expected to launch a scathing attack on “blind unreasoning hostility” to wind turbines from opponents whom he labels “climate change sceptics”.
David Cameron pledged last year that a Conservative government would scrap subsidies for new onshore wind farms that are yet to gain planning consent – a move that would effectively prevent further turbines being built, since they are reliant on subsidies to be profitable.
Mr Cameron said the public was “fed up” of onshore wind and Britain did not need any more.
However, the Prime Minister has also insisted the Conservatives remain committed to the UK’s legally-binding long-term climate change targets.
Mr Yeo said this would leave the Conservatives needing to spend more money on other, more expensive green power sources instead – such as offshore wind farms, which the party has so far supported despite its cost.
“Allowing opponents to rule out onshore wind altogether has only one certain consequence – to raise the cost of achieving the cut in greenhouse gas emissions to which Britain is legally committed. In other words, higher electricity prices for all consumers,” Mr Yeo is expected to say.
The total cost of green subsidies on consumer energy bills has been capped for the rest of this decade. However, building expensive offshore wind farms instead of onshore turbines would mean less “bang for our buck” and eventually push up costs for billpayers, Mr Yeo said.
The MP, who has previously opposed wind farms in his own constituency, said turbines should not be imposed on unwilling local communities.
But he urged the Prime Minister to rethink the Conservatives’ pledge and to continue offering subsidies for projects in areas that did accept wind farms.
“There are some parts of the UK where they seem to be happy with onshore wind. If people are happy to see some wind turbines in their area, and the cost of subsiding those is significantly lower than the subsidy we are offering for offshore wind, I would urge him to let the local view prevail,” he said.
Mr Yeo will use his speech to urge the next Government to “ignore climate change sceptics who oppose every application for onshore wind farms even when local communities do not object”.
“Of course, there are some places in which onshore wind turbines are unacceptable for environmental and aesthetic reasons. But blind unreasoning hostility to onshore wind is mistaken,” he will say.
Mr Yeo argues that “turning our back on onshore wind as a matter of principle ignores the fact that it is good value for money” as one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy.
“Britain needs secure clean energy, but we should choose the most affordable and cost effective technologies, which include onshore wind,” he will say.
Mr Yeo, the former environment minister, is standing down as MP for South Suffolk after being deselected by local party members.
He has been a vocal supporter of green energy, making him a rare voice on the Conservative backbenches. Many Tory MPs are vehemently opposed to the technology, arguing it is inefficient, costly and blights the landscape.
Mr Yeo has previously faced criticism in some quarters for his financial interests in green energy companies but said he has no financial interest in any onshore wind farm companies.
A Conservative Party source said: “We want to keep energy bills as low as possible whilst guaranteeing our energy supplies are secure and meeting our international climate change obligations.
“We’re backing renewable energy and progressing towards a cleaner future. But we will only do this in a responsible way that preserves our green and pleasant land.”
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