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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Subsidy cuts will not stop wind turbines being built, claim Cumbrian campaigners

The Government has cut the subsidy for onshore wind energy by 10 per cent.

But anti-windfarm campaigners in Cumbria say the cut doesn’t go far enough and is unlikely to halt the march of the turbines.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey announced changes to support for renewables, which he said would boost clean electricity while curbing bills for consumers.

Subsidies for onshore turbines are being cut but support for tidal and wave power will double.

Mr Davey had been under pressure to make cuts of up to 25 per cent in the subsidy for onshore wind.

More than 100 MPs – including Carlisle’s John Stevenson, Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart and Workington’s Tony Cunningham – had signed a letter to the Prime Minister demanding a cut in subsidies.

Marion Fitzgerald, chairwoman of the Allerdale anti-windfarm group Friends of Rural Cumbria’s Environment (Force), was disappointed Mr Davey had not gone further.

She said: “We were hoping for a bigger cut than that. We will have to wait and see what happens.

“We have now had more than 60 applications for wind-energy related developments in Allerdale this year.

“A lot are from small developers wanting to put up a single turbine or a small group. They have been assisted by the subsidies.

“We had been hoping that a [bigger] reduction in subsidy would stem the tide.”

She does not think that large wind-energy firms will be deterred by a 10 per cent cut.

That view was confirmed by a statement from RES, which generates 10 per cent of the UK’s onshore wind energy. The company said: “RES is now more confident that we will be able to progress with our plans to bring forward £1.7bn of projects vital to UK energy security in the next five years, and deliver significant benefits to communities across the UK.”

Conservative MP Mr Stevenson has welcomed the cut in subsidy.

He said: “I’m not a supporter of onshore wind energy. The environmental damage outweighs the potential benefits.

“I welcome any reduction in the level of subsidy. It’s a move in the right direction.

“You can’t make a big strategic move straight away. We don’t want to destroy the industry per se.”

Meanwhile, Paul Nuttall, a UK Independence Party Euro MP for the North West and a long-standing critic of windfarms, has branded the subsidy cut as “laughable”.

He added: “The whole windfarm industry is a con and is not viable without subsidies.

“It is wrong that the taxpayer should be paying to keep afloat private businesses, often based abroad, and also lining the pockets of wealthy landowners. The subsidies should be scrapped altogether.”

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