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Pressure mounts to reverse controversial wind farm decision

The UK Government is under growing pressure to scrap a controversial decision to end new on-shore wind farm subsidies.

Cross-party MSPs have signed a motion laid at the Scottish Parliament which “condemns” the announcement to close the renewables obligation from April next year.

It claims the move was taken without consulting the renewables industry or the Scottish Government and would put an estimated 5,400 jobs and £3billion in investment in danger.

The motion lodged by Highland and islands SNP MSP Mike Mackenzie has been signed by Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney Liam McArthur and independent MSP John Finnie, who is a member of the Scottish Green Party.

By contrast, anti-windfarm campaigners are delighted that the Conservatives, which have one MP in Scotland, are delivering on a general election manifesto pledge.

Graham Lang, chairman of pressure group Scotland Against Spin, said communities “besieged by subsidy-chasers” could now look forward to some respite because “every proposal created more opposition”.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd has said the government wanted to cut carbon emissions by fostering enterprise, competition, opportunity and growth.

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

The UK Government has said up to 5.2GW of onshore wind capacity could be eligible for grace periods which would be offered to projects that already have planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, as well as evidence of land rights.

The Holyrood motion said that subsidies were “vital” to meeting Scotland’s target of generating 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020 and tackling climate change.

It claimed the subsidy decision could potentially cost consumers £2billion to £3billion in more expensive replacement low-carbon power generation.

Mr Mackenzie said: “I am very pleased that this motion now has cross-party support, allowing us to send a loud and clear message to the UK Government that their irresponsible, unfair decision is completely unacceptable.”

Labour MSPs have signed a similar motion of condemnation lodged by north-east MSP Lewis Macdonald.

A spokesman for the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Bills won’t rise because of this change because we control the clean energy costs that go on people’s bills.

“We have enough onshore wind now – including projects that have planning permission, we have as much as we’d projected.

“If we’d allowed the renewables obligation to stay open longer, we could have ended up with more projects than we can afford – which would have led to either higher bills, or other renewable technologies losing out on support.”