Rudd slashes onshore wind support

18th June 2015

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Politics & Economics



The renewables obligation will be closed to new onshore wind farms from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than previously planned, the government announced today.

Up to 5.2GW of projects that already have planning consent, agreement to connect to the grid and evidence of land rights could be eligible for a grace period, according to a statement from the energy and climate department (Decc).

Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd said that the government wants to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not encourage a reliance on 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 windfarms. 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."

But the UK is one of only three European member states that is falling short on its renewables target, according to a progress report from the European commission on Tuesday.

Decc says it will look at continuing support for community energy projects as part of its review of feed-in tariffs.

The government has already announced plans to remove onshore wind from the nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) regime. However, this will not have a significant impact since there are so few planned onshore wind farms in England over 50MW.

The Scottish government has been lobbying against cuts to onshore wind subsidies, arguing that they would have a disproportionate impact on Scotland, where around 70% of onshore wind projects in the UK planning system are located.

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said the decision to scrap the RO a year early was "deeply regrettable," and may lead to judicial review.

"It is not the scrapping of a new subsidy that was promised but a reduction of an existing regime - and one under which companies and communities have already planned investment.

"Onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options, as well the vital contribution it makes towards tackling climate change, which means it should be the last one to be scrapped, curtailed or restricted," he said.

Ewing said the scrapping of the subsidy is irrational since offshore wind would continue to receive support even though it was far more expensive.

"Therefore we have warned the UK government that the decision, which appears irrational, may well be the subject of a judicial review," he said.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive at the trade body, RenewableUK, said the decision sends a "chilling signal" not just to the renewables industry, but to all investors in infrastructure.

"It means this government is quite prepared to pull the rug from under the feet of investors even when this country desperately needs to clean up the way we generate electricity at the lowest possible cost - which is onshore wind," she said.

Fuel bills will increase as a direct result of the decision, she said. If the government was really serious about bringing costs down, it should work with industry to do so, not slam the door on the lowest cost option, she added.

She called for Rudd to hold immediate talks with the wind industry to manage the impact of the cuts.


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