The UK Government should not remove public subsidies for wind farms without consulting the Scottish Government first, the energy minister has warned.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is expected to announce measures to deliver on the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to “end any new public subsidy” for onshore wind farms.
Fergus Ewing has written to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd seeking assurances that the Scottish Government will be consulted before any change.
He says the DECC must also consult with the energy industry.
In his letter, Mr Ewing said: “I welcome the commitment in the Queen’s Speech that there will be consultation with the devolved administrations on changes to subsidies for onshore wind farms and I look forward to that consultation.
“However, I am concerned about recent statements coming from your department relating to proposed changes in support for renewable energy.
“Any lack of clarity has the potential to stall a very substantial pipeline of investment in the UK and Scotland, and dent the UK and Scotland’s reputation with developers and investors.”
He added: “We have not received any information from your department on the possible options you are considering or what analysis has been done to assess the impact on projects in Scotland.
“Given the importance of the renewables sector to Scotland and prior commitments to consult, I would appreciate your reassurance that you will not make any changes to the subsidy arrangements for onshore wind without agreement from Scottish ministers.
“Furthermore, and given the obvious disquiet within the sector, I strongly urge that your department engage with businesses involved in the sector and their trade bodies – both to give them reassurance that any changes to the subsidy regime are being taken forward in a considered and planned way, but also to ensure that your department retains good faith with these businesses and organisations who are integral to the future energy security of both the UK and Scotland.”
Environmental charity WWF Scotland said changes to the scheme could risk undermining the development of the cheapest form of renewable energy.
Director Lang Banks said: “Cutting support for the lowest-cost renewable technology would be a backward step that will either see bills rise or climate targets missed.
“Opinion polls consistently show onshore wind to be one of the most popular forms of electricity, generating thousands of jobs across Scotland and helping to cut our carbon emissions.
“We urge the UK Government to think again on its plans to cut support and encourage the Scottish Government to continue to back the development of onshore wind in Scotland.”
The UK Government has previously stated that it will consult with Scotland on the issue.
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