More doubt over Shropshire and Mid Wales wind farms

Further doubt has been cast over the future of plans to build wind farms in Shropshire and Mid Wales after the government confirmed it will end new subsidies by closing the existing payments schemes a year early.

The move aims to fulfil a Conservative promise ahead of the election on ending new public subsidies for onshore wind farms and changing the law so local people have the final say on them.

Prime Minister David Cameron told Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies in Prime Minister's Questions earlier this month that he would be ending the subsidies.

Now the Tories have confirmed the plans, saying onshore turbines "often fail to win public support and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires."

It has offered a loophole, saying there will be a grace period offered to projects hat already have planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance and evidence that the scheme has the right to use the land, seemingly ruling out support for the five applications subject to a public inquiry in Mid Wales.

Glyn Davies

Mr Davies said: "As far as I am concerned the Mid Wales project is dead. David Cameron told me as much during Prime Minister's Questions.

"He made it clear that there will be no further funding for onshore wind and I believe that will apply to Mid Wales.

"I am meeting with ministers next week to discuss the matter further and hopefully by then I will have something concrete on the situation."

The onshore wind industry and environmental campaigners have criticised the Conservatives for attacking the cheapest form of clean energy, and one which enjoys the support of 65 per cent of people, while saying they want to cut carbon in the most cost-effective way.

Under the plans, the "renewables obligation" scheme, through which subsidies are paid to renewable schemes, will be closed to onshore wind farms from April 1, 2016.

The renewables obligation has already been closed to large scale solar farms, amid Tory concerns that the technology was a blight on the landscape, and is due to close to all new renewables schemes in 2017.

A new system for subsidies for low carbon energy, known as "contracts for difference" is being brought in, and it is not clear whether new onshore wind farms will be eligible for the scheme in the future, though it is believed to be unlikely they will.

More than £800 million of subsidies - which are paid for through consumer bills - helped onshore wind generate five per cent of the UK's total electricity last year, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said there were enough subsidised onshore wind schemes to meet renewable energy commitments.

Ms Rudd said: "We have a long-term plan to keep the lights on and our homes warm, power the economy with cleaner energy, and keep bills as low as possible for hard-working families.

"As part of our plan, we are committed to cutting our carbon emissions by fostering enterprise, competition, opportunity and growth.

"We want to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not encourage a reliance of public subsidies.

"So we are driving forward our commitment to end new onshore wind subsidies and give local communities the final say over any new wind farms.

"Onshore wind is an important part of our energy mix and we now have enough subsidised projects in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments."

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