UK: David Cameron launches aggressive attack on onshore wind

Photo credit: Gerry Machen – via Flickr.
By Anders Lorenzen

As the UK government desperately tries to attract shale gas companies to the country by offering them generous tax breaks, David Cameron appears to be keen to shut down the UK’s cheapest and most low carbon energy industry; onshore wind.

In statements delivered to MPs in December, the Prime Minister indicated he would ditch subsidies for new onshore wind projects on the basis that people are fed up with them. This happened a matter of weeks after his chancellor, George Osborne, unveiled further tax breaks to for the pained North Sea oil and gas sector.

The government’s own statistics show that onshore wind is actually supported by 67% of the UK population, in stark contrast to fracking which more than 50% of Brits oppose.
The PMs statements are bound to worry the UK renewables industry, particularly at a time when the industry seems stronger than ever with new wind power generation records being set and more wind generated electricity entering the grid than ever.

The PMs position is likely to be brought about by the upcoming election this summer; with many Tories and UKIP opposing onshore wind, Cameron can ill afford a progressive stance on the issue. This by a PM who pledged to lead ‘the greenest government ever’ when he took office in 2010.

Onshore wind power has struggled to take off in England in recent years; projects have typically been bogged down in lengthy and bureaucratic approval processes before eventually being rejected. The economic cost of rejections has been a prohibitive burden on green electricity supplier Ecotricity who recently announced that they will now longer submit wind turbine proposals in England and will instead default to Scotland where the government is far more supportive. However were the onshore wind power subsidy to go this would seriously threaten the future of onshore wind power in Scotland too. 

Related news:

Opinion: Cameron and Salmond: it’s time to wave goodbye to UK’s North Sea oil and gas reserves

Opinion: David Cameron and shale gas

Analysis: The UK’s energy crisis

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