Archived press release
Press & Media
Responding to news that the Government is seeking to give more powers to local communities in England and Wales to decide on the approval of future onshore wind projects, and suggestions that there will be no new subsidies for the technology, Friends of the Earth campaigner Alasdair Cameron said:
"Local people should have a greater say over renewable energy projects, which are generally extremely popular - but it is ironic that this is happening as the Government is doing everything it can to overcome opposition to fracking, which most people oppose. It’s pretty clear that this has little to do with what the public actually wants.
"Wind farms are not suitable for all locations, but they are a popular and affordable form of energy, providing jobs and investment in rural communities. Despite a vocal minority, more than 60% of people back more onshore wind, including a majority of Conservative voters.
"A big risk with the local planning approach is that local authorities may not be equipped to deal with the scale and complexities of large wind farm applications.
“It’s still unclear what the Government’s ‘no new subsidy’ for future onshore wind actually means. But if ministers give the UK wind industry proper support it could soon become one of the cheapest sources of energy we have.”
Notes to editors:
1. The plans being considered by the Government include removing the 50MW threshold after which an onshore wind farm becomes deemed National Infrastructure. This means that local authorities will have the ability to decide on all forms of onshore wind, large and small.
2. There are currently around 700 MW of onshore wind with planning permission in England, and a further 500 MW in Wales awaiting construction. These projects should be unaffected, although not all will be built.
3. The Government has pledged that there will be “no new subsidy” for onshore wind, however it is unclear what this means. Existing farms, or those with permission should not be affected. Meanwhile the main current support regime (the Renewable Obligation) ends in 2017, while the Contract for Difference which is replacing it is not clearly a subsidy, as the price paid may vary. Indeed onshore wind is already one of the cheapest forms of energy, and will be cheaper still in a few years, potentially rendering price support unnecessary.
4. Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy. It is already cheaper than new nuclear and is likely to be competitive with new gas power stations in just a few years.
5. Slowing the development of onshore wind farms will likely push up bills for consumers, cost rural communities jobs and investment and make it harder for the government to hit its climate change targets.