The wind farm invasion blighting Britain could come to an end under new government’ plans to pull the plug on funding for new turbines.
Ministers want to halt a generous subsidy scheme which would effectively prevent thousands of the monstrosities from getting built.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd is expected to unveil the proposals this week.
Under current policy, any big onshore wind turbines built before the end of March 2017 would automatically be able to qualify for generous payments through a scheme called the Renewables Obligation (RO), which is funded through green levies on consumer energy bills.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has now confirmed it plans to “reform” the RO scheme.
It is understood to be looking at ending the free-for-all by shutting the scheme down early – effectively preventing thousands of turbines getting built.
The action follows similar moves taken to curb subsidies for solar farms last year.
After the RO shuts, the only possible subsidies for wind farms will be through a new scheme that is less generous and also much more strictly rationed, with ministers deciding how many projects – if any – are awarded subsidy contracts, enabling them to block further onshore wind if desired.
As well as big wind farms, subsidies for small individual wind turbines such as those popular with farmers – funded through a separate scheme called the Feed in Tariff – are expected to be limited under the plans.
A spokesman for the DECC said: “We are driving forward plans to end new public subsidy for onshore wind farms.
“We will shortly be publishing our plans to reform the Renewables Obligation and Feed in Tariff scheme to implement this commitment. With the cost of supplying onshore wind falling, government subsidy is no longer appropriate.”
Ms Rudd said: “We promised people clean, affordable and secure energy supplies and that’s what I’m going to deliver. We’ll focus support on renewables when they’re starting up – getting a good deal for billpayers is the top priority.”
Many of the projects that already have planning permission would have been expecting to secure subsidies under the RO scheme and it is not clear whether they will still be able to if the scheme shuts early. Ministers may consider offering a ‘grace period’, enabling some of those that already have permission to still get built while blocking off subsidies for those that do not.
The Government announced in the Queen’s Speech last week that it would bring forward legislation to give local communities “the final say” by ensuring large wind farm projects are decided at local rather than national level.
Ms Rudd said: “We need to make decisions on energy more democratic and give our communities a direct say into new onshore wind farms where they live. In future, I want planning decisions on onshore wind farms to be made by local people – not by politicians in Westminster.”
However those in the green energy industry had been most concerned about the pledge to end subsidies, amid uncertainty over the detail of the plans.
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