Wind Farms' Unpopularity With Tory MPs Confirmed By Letter To Cameron

Wind Farms Tories

PA/The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 5/02/2012 05:47 Updated: 5/02/2012 06:15

More than 100 Tory MPs have written to David Cameron calling for a dramatic cut in subsidies to onshore wind farms and more influence for local people to stop them being built.

In a major revolt against government policy, they joined forces with politicians from other parties to express serious concerns over the level of taxpayers' money going to the sector.

State help for one of the most controversial sources of renewable energy is being cut but only slowly, under plans set out by ministers last year.

But in what will be an early headache for new Energy Secretary Ed Davey - promoted to the job after Chris Huhne's resignation on Friday morning - the MPs demanded an acceleration.

"In these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines," they write in a letter, seen by the Sunday Telegraph.

They also expressed concerns that the proposed National Planning Policy Framework "diminishes the chances of local people defeating onshore wind farm proposals through the planning system".

The letter can be seen as an immediate attempt to sieze control of the renewable energy agenda within government, and will confirm fears by green lobbyists that Chris Huhne's departure will lead to a subtle shift in government over climate change.

Critics say the giant turbines are a blot on the countryside, and a recent report from the economist Ruth Lea suggested they were highly inefficient compared with nuclear energy.

Organised by backbencher Chris Heaton-Harris, the letter's 101 Tory signatories include senior figures such as David Davis, Bernard Jenkin and Nicholas Soames and well as many of the new intake.

Among them is Matthew Hancock, a close ally of Chancellor George Osborne - which will raise suggestions that the Treasury is sympathetic to the calls.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "We need a low carbon infrastructure and onshore wind is a cost effective and valuable part of the UK's diverse energy mix.

"The Government has commissioned a review of subsidy levels and we are already proposing a cut for onshore wind subsidies to take into account the fact that costs are coming down.

"We are committed to giving local communities the power to shape the spaces in which they live and are getting rid of regional targets introduced by the last government.

"The draft framework also aims to strengthen local decision making and reinforce the importance of local plans."

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