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Energy secretary Amber Rudd fast-tracking new law on onshore wind farms  

Credit:  By Western Morning News | Posted: May 17, 2015 | www.westernmorningnews.co.uk ~~

The new energy secretary Amber Rudd has pledged to fast-track laws giving communities the power to block onshore wind farms.

Ms Rudd said she had “put a rocket” under legislation which would abandon subsidies and make local support crucial to new developments.

Her comments were welcomed by Westcountry MPs, who praised the newly promoted minister for her “progressive” stance on energy issues.

But she has come under fire from conservation groups after saying she was “keen” on nuclear and revealing she would allow fracking under national parks.

Onshore wind farms has become an increasingly divisive topic in the South West, with many communities claiming they feel swamped by new projects and blaming subsidies for their proliferation.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Ms Rudd said she wanted to make it impossible for investors to build onshore wind farms without local consent.

“This is really important. No more onshore wind farm subsidies and no more onshore wind farms without local community support,” she said,

“That’s going to be one of the first things we’re going to do. I’ve put a rocket under the team to get it done.

“We can’t have them on scale in areas where people don’t want them.”

She said the proposal would be in the Queens Speech on May 27, adding there was a “hopeful prospect” of a law by the middle of 2016.

Peter Heaton-Jones, the newly-elected Conservative MP for North Devon, said he was pleased to have an energy secretary who understood rural concerns.

“Our manifesto said that we would halt the spread of onshore wind farms by ending subsidies, he said. “I absolutely support Ms Rudd delivering on this. She is a very progressive energy secretary.

“We must be sure that we have the means to generate all the energy we need in an affordable and clean way and renewables have to be part of the mix,” he added.

“But I think we need to look at harnessing the huge potential of tidal power before we pursue more onshore wind farms.”

In the same interview, Ms Rudd also revealed she was “very keen” on new nuclear power plants, saying they were good for clean energy and reliable.

And she said that while her department will stress the tight regulation on fracking, it will allow shale gas extraction to take place under national parks as long as the wells themselves start outside the boundary.

“We have protected groundwater source areas and [prevented] national park drilling. I will make sure that we go out of our way to demonstrate to people the safety elements of it,” she said.

This has drawn criticism from conservation groups, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Nigel Cooper, spokesman for the organisation’s Cornwall branch said the Government had got its priorities “all wrong”.

“Instead of trashing national parks areas and pitting fossil fuels against renewables, they should be kick-starting a massive uptake of energy saving measures,” he said.

He added that a better planning policy and financial incentives to locate renewables on appropriate sites “would protect our countryside against dangerous climate change and a proliferation of turbines”.

“It would also reduce household bills at a time when we could all do with a bit more change in our pockets,” he said.

Source:  By Western Morning News | Posted: May 17, 2015 | www.westernmorningnews.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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