Onshore wind farms will not receive any new public subsidy if the Conservatives win the election, according to the party's manifesto, launched today.
The manifesto states that onshore wind farms makes a meaningful contribution to the UK’s energy mix, but often fail to win public support and are unable to provide a stable supply. “As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications,” it says.
Trade body Renewable UK pointed out that onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of energy, adding: “When the Tories claim in their manifesto that they intend to cut carbon emissions as cost-effectively as possible they’re being breathtakingly illogical and therefore idiotic.”
The party also confirms it will establish a sovereign wealth fund to reinvest the profits from shale gas operations in the north of England, and pledges continuing support for North sea oil and gas. It also promises “significant” expansion of new nuclear and gas generation.
The manifesto also says the party will provide start-up funding for research and development into new renewable technologies, but adds that it will only give significant support to those “that clearly represent value for money”.
On energy efficiency, the party says it will support low-cost measures and ensure that one million homes are insulated over the next five years.
The Conservatives say new roads and railways will be built, “as far as possible”, in ways that limit their impact on the environment. It pledges to invest £300 million in cutting light pollution from new roads and building better noise barriers, for example.
The party also plans to create a “blue belt” to protect marine habitats around the UK’s 14 overseas territories, although this will be “subject to local support and environmental need”. It will extend the Natural Capital Committee to at least the end of the next parliament, and work with it to draw up a 25-year plan to restore biodiversity.
Meanwhile, the Green party launched its manifesto with a pledge to “put the economy at the service of people and planet rather than the other way round”.
The party says it would implement a system of carbon quotas for people and businesses. Under this proposal, around half the available carbon units would be distributed equally to all adults, who would use them to buy fossil fuels or electricity. The remainder would be made available to companies and other organisations. People and businesses who use less than their quota could sell the excess to those who need more, according to the manifesto.
The Greens promise to invest £45 billion over the next parliament on an energy-efficiency programme for households, with the aim of insulating nine million homes for free in areas where fuel poverty was the most serious. It will also fund a campaign to raise people’s awareness of the energy performance of their home and other buildings. Standards for the energy performance of commercial buildings, such as ISO 50001, should be mandatory, say the Greens.
Other pledges on energy and environment issues in the party’s manifesto include:
- a nature and wellbeing Act to protect landscape and wildlife;
- the promotion of landscape-scale conservation using improved agri-environment schemes and the planning system;
- repeal of the national planning policy framework, with local people and councils in charge of planning decisions;
- a requirement for Ofwat and the Environment Agency to work together to create a “healthy” water environment and low-prices for consumers;
- the introduction of tax measures and regulation to design waste out of packaging and products;
- a domestic recycling target of 70% by 2020;
- a target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 10% of their 1990 levels by 2030; and
- energy demand reduction targets – by one-third by 2020, one half by 2030 and two-thirds by 2050.