The British government plans to build up to 3,000 new wind turbines over the next five years, despite Conservative plans for a moratorium. Energy Secretary Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, has said that his department plans to increase the total capacity of onshore wind farms from seven gigawatts to 13 by 2020, and that Conservatives will not succeed in stopping them.
The plan, which will likely divide the government, will bring to total of wind turbines in the British countryside to more than 7,000, with even more planned for off-shore development.
This will also fuel concerns among local residents in rural areas throughout the country, especially as the average height and capacity of wind turbines has doubled since the 1990s.
The new wind farms will be heavily subsidised, with funding coming from a levy on household energy bills.
By contrast, David Cameron yesterday suggested that subsidies for wind energy may be cut. He said: “In terms of onshore wind, obviously there will come a time when we will have built enough to meet all our targets. I’ve always said on subsidies, we shouldn’t keep subsidies for longer than they are necessary, and so that’s something we will be looking at.”
Earlier this month, Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps also hinted that the party’s next manifesto would include a moratorium on new on-shore wind farms, which he said “blight the countryside”.
Despite the fact that new turbines will be funded by a levy on energy bills, Ed Davey accused the Conservatives of pushing up energy prices. He told the Times, “The danger of the Conservative position of pushing a cap is, if we allow them to get their way, energy bills will go up. We have, and the Conservatives support it, the Climate Change Act which requires us to reduce our carbon emissions.”
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has recently pushed through changes to the planning system to make it easier to local residents to object to applications to build wind turbines, as well as extending his own powers to block unpopular construction projects. He has already used this power to reject three wind farm applications in the past three months.
Mr Davey said he was “very relaxed” about the changes, saying they would not “damage” the wind farm industry.
Speaking to Breitbart London, Benny Peiser of the independent Global Warming Policy Foundation expressed scepticism about the motivations of both parties: “All parties are currently positioning themselves for the upcoming elections this year and next. Until then, UK energy policy will remain in limbo.
“All parliamentary parties are in favour of expanding wind energy, whether onshore or offshore, and have voted to increase green subsidies to nearly £50 billion by 2020. British families would be well advised to prepare themselves for energy bills to keep on rising.”