Ministers urged to spell out cost of onshore wind farm subsidies

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THE Government is being urged to spell out the massive subsidies which consumers are paying to finance onshore wind farms amid growing scepticism over the technology.

Developers are pushing ahead with plans for dozens of multi-million-pound developments which could see hundreds of turbines built across the Yorkshire region.

However, there is a growing wave of opposition to onshore wind farms as questions have been raised whether they present a viable source of renewable energy.

Demands placed on energy companies to invest more than £1bn every year in renewable technologies has seen costs placed on to consumers with increases in electricity bills.

MP Anne McIntosh is now writing to Energy Minister Charles Hendry calling on him to spell out to consumers the millions of pounds in subsidies which are being used to help finance renewable energies such as wind farms.

Miss McIntosh, the Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton, said other nations which have relied heavily on wind power, such as Denmark, are now beginning to question the validity of the technology.

She has met with campaigners opposed to a proposed wind farm on the Yorkshire coast which could see up to 14 turbines, each 475ft tall, built on agricultural land at Hunmanby, near Filey.

A planning application has also been submitted for a separate development in her constituency which could see 10 turbines built at East Heslerton, near Malton.

Miss McIntosh said: “I am concerned about onshore wind farms for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest issues is the amount of subsidies which are being paid.

“We are coming later to the game than other countries such as Denmark, but the Government needs to spell out to people just how much money is being used to subsidise these wind farm developments.

“I do not think the case has been made for them as a source of renewable energy.” Miss McIntosh claimed other sources of energy, including nuclear plants, need to be considered, although she admitted there were still major issues over the disposal of nuclear waste.

Her Parliamentary colleague, the Tory MP for Selby and Ainsty, Nigel Adams, has also raised serious questions over on-shore turbines as they only work when the wind blows.

He has claimed the amount of power generated is not worth the impact on the surrounding communities and environment.

The Yorkshire Post revealed last week that he had launched a scathing attack against on-shore wind farms, branding them the “chocolate fireguard” of renewable energy.

But industry representatives maintained turbines represent a vital source of renewable energy, with major economic benefits.

The professional body for the wind and marine renewables industries, RenewableUK, was formed in 1978.

Figures from RenewableUK have shown the number of planning applications for developments have escalated dramatically in recent years.

There were 27 submissions for on-shore wind farms in England in 2004, and the figure had risen to 64 last year.

A spokesman stressed there are no direct subsidies from the Government, and added: “The current system is the fairest way to ensure we meet our renewable energy targets.”

Research has revealed about £1m from each megawatt installed stays at a local and regional level during the wind farm’s lifetime.

In a speech in February, Mr Hendry admitted wind farms do not present “the whole solution”, but claimed turbines should form a key part of the nation’s renewable energy strategy.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed subsidies are being analysed to assess how much each renewable technology will receive between 2013 and 2017.

paul.jeeves@ypn.co.uk

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