Fears for the future of renewable energy in the North East have been expressed after the withdrawal of plans for a massive wind farm.
E.ON has withdrawn its proposals for the Isles Wind Farm near Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, citing changes to Government energy policy as one of the reasons for making the scheme “no longer technicall or economically viable”.
The abandonment of the scheme has been welcomed by many local people who had campaigned against the development.
But fears have been expressed that Government planning changes and reductions to subsidies for on-shore wind farms will cripple the renewable energy industry at the very point that it had reached its highest levels of investment.
A spokesman for RenewableUK, the trade association representing the wind industry, said: “Onshore wind is the cheapest renewable energy source in this blustery nation of ours, so it plays an important role in driving down the cost of energy, keeping people’s electricity bills as low as possible.
“It also generates millions of pounds in investment and supports more than 18,000 jobs, including thousands of apprenticeships.
“So it’s a shame that draconian new planning laws and the removal of subsidies for future onshore wind projects are putting green growth at risk.
“The latest Government opinion poll shows that two-thirds of the public supports onshore wind, so we hope that their opinions will be taken into account, as we continue to make the transition from fossil fuels to clean power sources”
The spokesman was speaking after E.ON issued a statement saying that “after careful consideration E.ON has made the decision not to progress with the proposed Isles Wind Farm project near Newton Aycliffe.
“During a detailed review of the project a number of long standing environmental and technical issues have been re-assessed.
“These include the long-standing objection from the Ministry of Defence, the high level of bird activity on the site, investor uncertainty and changes to planning law. The combination of these issues has resulted in E.ON’s decision to withdraw from the project.”
The decision to withdraw the scheme was welcomed by Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson.
He said: “There are issues around the cutting of subsidies, but this was the wrong wind farm in the wrong place.
“I’m not against wind farms entirely, but the main issues around this scheme were planning related. There’s been a cumulative impact of the number of wind farms in the same area. Durham ha s done well on renewable energy, but for me, this was one scheme too far.
“In terms of energy policy, there needs to be a reduction of subsidies over time, but it has to be in such a way that we sustain the growth in renewable energy, because that it is the future.”
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