Windfarm cash cut is a huge step backwards

Windfarm cropped

​Government ends subsidies to inshore wind industry a year early - prompting warnings this will hit Scotland's climate change ambitions

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18th June 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

A controversial decision to axe key funding for onshore windfarms has been slammed as a huge backward step by a leading environmental group.

WWF Scotland said the decision of the UK Tory government to end subsidies to the industry a year earlier than planned could place a huge hole in ambitious climate change targets the county has set itself.

The Tories promised in their election manifesto to scrap the Renewables Obligation, which forced power companies to add levies to household bills, which were used to subsidise wind technology.

They made good on this promise, announcing the cash will end from 1 April 2016 although there will be a grace period for projects which already have planning permission.

This is one year earlier than initially pledged – and green groups say that as well as damaging Scotland’s climate target bid, it could knock a £3 billion hole in the economy of Scotland, where 70% of onshire wind projects are based.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “This decision risks undermining the development of the cheapest form of renewables in the country and is bad news for Scotland's clean energy ambitions. 

Cutting support early for the lowest cost renewable technology is a backward step that will either see bills rise or climate targets missed

"Cutting support early for the lowest cost renewable technology is a backward step that will either see bills rise or climate targets missed.  

"Opinion polls consistently show onshore wind to be one of the most popular forms of electricity, generating thousands of jobs across Scotland and helping to cut our carbon emissions.  

"This decision is especially contradictory coming in the week that the European Commission warned that the UK is set to miss its 2020 renewables target. The UK Government must now set out plans to restore confidence to a nervous industry."

However, conservation charity the John Muir Trust, which has launched several high profile campaigns against windfarm developments, said the government’s decision could provide the opportunity for a rebalancing of Scotland’s energy provision sector, leading to a mix which has the “least cost to the public and the environment”.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive, said: “This is the right time for the UK government to work out an energy mix that is affordable and meets the climate change targets and our energy needs, without permanently damaging our wild and natural landscapes.

“A national energy commission with independent expertise could advise the government on how to make the transition to a mix which has least cost to the public and the environment. 

“The trust believes this is an opportunity to rebalance the UK’s approach to energy policy – focusing public money towards energy conservation which would create jobs throughout the country, reduce the number of people in fuel poverty and minimise environmental impacts.”