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SNP threatens Westminster with windfarm court battle

The Scottish Government is threatening David Cameron’s new Tory administration with the prospect of legal action over plans to end lucrative subsidies for windfarms.

SNP Energy minister Fergus Ewing says the move will hit Scotland worse because of the high number of windfarms planned and there are fears it could see billions of pounds added to power bills.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced this morning their intention to close the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind from April 2016.

Mr Ewing said: “The decision by the UK Government to end the Renewables Obligation next year is deeply regrettable and will have a disproportionate impact on Scotland as around 70 per cent of onshore wind projects in the UK planning system are here.

“This announcement goes further than what had been previously indicated. It is not the scrapping of a ‘new’ subsidy that was promised but a reduction of an existing regime – and one under which companies and communities have already planned investment.”

The SNP Government wants to generate all of Scotland’s electricity needs from green energy sources by 2020 and windfarms area key part of that.

It is feared today’s move will cause major uncertainty for investors across the renewables sector.

“The decision will prevent onshore schemes proceeding whilst offshore wind will go ahead despite receiving far more generous subsidies,” Mr Ewing added.

“This, the industry claim, will lead to extra costs for consumers of possibly around £2-3 billion and must be irrational in that respect.

“Therefore we have warned the UK Government that the decision, which appears irrational, may well be the subject of a Judicial Review.”

UK energy secretary Amber Rudd has unveiled the proposals this morning which will close existing subsidies payment schemes a year early for new onshore wind projects, to fulfil a Conservation election manifesto promise.

The Tories claim the onshore turbines “often fail to win public support and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires”.

The industry and environmental campaigners have criticised the Conservatives for attacking the cheapest form of clean energy, and one which enjoys the support of 65% of people, while saying they want to cut carbon in the most cost-effective way.

Ms Rudd said: “We have a long-term plan to keep the lights on and our homes warm, power the economy with cleaner energy, and keep bills as low as possible for hard-working families.

“We want to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not encourage a reliance of public subsidies.”