Grant Shapps on Sunday fired a warning shot over plans for a major expansion of onshore wind farms, saying they were an “eyesore” and caused noise pollution.
The Transport Secretary appeared to oppose the development of wind farms despite support for them from some Cabinet colleagues.
The Government is set to announce its energy security strategy on Thursday, which is expected to contain new plans for the farms alongside commitments on nuclear power and offshore wind sites.
The Telegraph previously reported that a review commissioned by Boris Johnson and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, had concluded that Britain should treble its onshore capacity to 30GW by 2030 and 45GW by 2035.
Industry estimates suggest reaching that capacity would require around 7,000 new turbines.
The plans are unpopular with others in the Cabinet, and Mr Shapps told Sky News: “I don’t favour a vast increase in onshore wind farms, for pretty obvious reasons – they sit on the hills there and can create something of an eyesore for communities as well as actual problems of noise as well.
“So I think for reasons of environmental protection, the way to go with this is largely – not entirely – but largely offshore.”
Asked whether that meant the idea of a big increase in the number of onshore wind farms was “effectively off the table for now”, he said: “I’d urge you to wait for the energy strategy later in the week.
“But my thinking is what you really want to do is develop in other ways … I don’t think you want a huge expansion of onshore wind. There may be cases where it makes sense, but I think by and large we’ve established that offshore works very well. And by the way, it’s providing quite a lot of our electricity already.”
A Downing Street spokesman on Sunday sought to quell concerns from Tory MPs on the issue, promising that “any decisions on onshore wind will always be subject to consent from local authorities”.
“Next week we will set out an ambitious plan to supercharge our use of a diverse range of renewables including offshore wind, solar and hydrogen – all underpinned by nuclear and continued support for our North Sea oil and gas sector,” the spokesman said.
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