By Stefan Bienkowski
The Conservative party has announced new energy policies that would see the end of all public subsidies for onshore wind farms in the United Kingdom, if the party wins a majority win in the 2015 general election.
Existing wind farms and those already planned for construction will be safe under existing law, yet according to Energy minister, Michael Fallon, the UK already has enough of the alternative energy to meet EU targets and would therefore stop subsidising any more construction of the farms.
Fallon said: “We remain committed to cutting our carbon emissions. And renewable energy, including onshore wind, has a key role in our future energy supply.
“But we now have enough bill payer-funded onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more.
“That’s why the next Conservative government will end any additional bill payer subsidy for onshore wind and give local councils the decisive say on any new wind farms.”
The proposal has met with opposition in Scotland with the Scottish Government already committed to producing 100 per cent equivalent electricity through renewables by 2020.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These are effectively plans to make the lights go out and the bills to go up. Already OFGEM is warning of a very tight gap between energy supply and energy demand, and National Grid are warning that they are connecting fewer new power stations than originally planned.
“The UK Government’s energy policy is causing further damage to security of supply, and the concern must be that this announcement will further hamper investment in the energy industry, at a time when it is badly needed to help ensure energy security.
“Thankfully Scottish electricity can help keep the lights on across the UK and household energy bills down, and with policy proposals like this it is clear Scottish electricity will be needed more than ever.”
There are over 160 onshore wind farms throughout Scotland with the largest, Whitelee, just outside Glasgow providing power to just under 300,000 homes south of the city making it the largest of its kind in Europe.
Following Fallon’s statement, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that the UK would have a ‘decent amount’ of onshore wind farms but had no need for anymore in the current system.
“It’s not the end of onshore wind it will make an important contribution to our country’s electricity but you won’t see lots of new large-scale wind farm developments.” He said.
This comes just a month after Fallon and Energy Secretary, Edward Davey, visited Scotland stating that the country was fast becoming a ‘world energy hub’ in renewable energy.
He said: “Being here with you is business as usual for me. And for Scottish Renewables, business as usual means investment and progress.”
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, added:
“This desperate pitch from Tory high command shows yet again Westminster parties dancing to a reactionary tune. We should not allow our huge potential for renewables to be buffeted by such whims.
“We must speed up the transition away from dirty fuels and towards clean energy. As the costs of wind power come down so will the need for public subsidy, and whoever’s in power at Westminster after 2015 you can bet they will continue to massively subsidise oil, gas and other unsustainable industries.”
Scotland currently produces over 40 percent of its energy from renewables and boasts one third of all green energy produced in the UK, in an industry worth £4 billion.