By Martin Kelly
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned he must take urgent action against people within his own party who are plotting against renewable energy, Friends of the Earth has said.
The environmental campaign group also urged the Prime Minister to stop Energy Minister John Hayes from making statements that damage investor confidence in clean power.
The call followed comments from the Conservative energy minister who has insisted that there would be no more on-shore wind generators built on England’s “green and pleasant land”.
Speaking in the Guardian newspaper, the Conservative minister called for evidence that wind generation was efficient and added: “It would therefore be completely wrong to subsidise any technology by a penny more than necessary.
“…I have always said that renewable energy has a role to play but it must be in the right places, at the right cost and backed by genuine community support.”
Mr Hayes recently claimed that the UK’s “nuclear resurgence is alive and well” and described himself as “the most pro-nuclear Energy Minister that this country has seen for decades”.
However, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins challenged the UK Prime Minister to take action against Mr Hayes and said:
“The Prime Minister must stamp out plots within the Tory Party that seriously threaten jobs and investment in clean energy.
“John Hayes must be forced to stop undermining renewable power, and if he doesn’t listen, the Prime Minister should pull the plug on his Energy Minister.
“David Cameron played a key role in opposition to secure the UK’s ground-breaking Climate Change Act – he must stand up to maverick elements in the Conservative Party who want to destroy it.”
Mr Hayes’ comments against wind power have led to a splits within the UK coalition, with his boss, Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey insisting on-shore wind generation was still part of the coalition’s renewable plans.
The SNP recently accused the UK government of threatening investment in Scotland’s renewables sector by creating uncertainty. Almost two thirds of the UK’s 6858 MW of installed onshore wind power capacity is in Scotland.
The Scottish government recently announced that half of its domestic electricity requirement would be met by renewable sources by 2015, its 2011 targets having been exceeded.
The Scottish renewables industry employs 11,000 people in Scotland; the sector has attracted £2.9 billion of investment since 2009 and latest DECC statistics show that it saved the equivalent of 8.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2011.