The departure of Chris Huhne on Friday has prompted calls from a number of Conservative back benchers for a dramatic cut in Government subsidies for wind energy projects, and for new planning powers to make it easier for residents to object to new onshore wind-farms.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and new Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey both attended an event yesterday with the Deputy Prime Minister confirming his support for wind energy, defending subsidies to help renewable energy compete with fossil fuels. This has however, highlighted what appears to be a growing split in the coaltion over energy policy.
Nick Clegg also stated that the savviest states understood that going for growth meant going ‘green’, with low-carbon markets being the next hurdle in the race to be the number one country in global excellence. Ed Davey meanwhile, stated that he was a lifelong supporter of renewable and wind power, with onshore and offshore wind power having a real place in a balanced mix of energy generation.
Opposition to wind-power after Huhne’s resignation had been demonstated in the form of a letter signed by over 100 back-bench Conservative MP’s including the letter’s organiser, Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris. Big names such as the former defence secretary Nicholas Soames and two-time leadership candidate David Davis were 2 of the signatories.
Between them, the Deputy Prime Minister and the new Secretary of State put forward a robust challenge in the face of this new organised opposition to onshore wind, and other challenges including economists who are sceptical as to the value for money of wind energy. The industry needs certainty and clear direction from Government if it is to address the challenges faced by the UK in meeting its obligations to deliver sustianble energy supplies from all sources.
As a back-drop to all of this Siemens in December had announced it was developing a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Hull, and in January the Port of Sheerness submitted a planning application for a new turbine manufacturing facility proposed by Vestas.
Source: The Guardian 7 Feb 2011