Wind farm cash cut ‘danger to jobs’

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HOPES of a green energy revolution on the Humber could be thwarted by moves to slash the level of subsidies to onshore wind farms, it is being claimed.

It is believed a forthcoming announcement by the Chancellor George Osborne could see the amount of subsidy cut by up to a quarter – which would come as a relief to those fighting wind farm proposals but a blow to hopes of creating thousands of green energy jobs on the Humber, according to the industry’s trade body.

The industry had been consulted over a 10 per cent cut in Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for onshore wind but East Yorkshire Conservative MP Greg Knight, who is among MPs campaigning for the subsidy to be cut, believes the Government could go further than expected.

Mr Knight says the move will make some “marginal” onshore wind farms unviable and could even stop in their tracks those which have planning permission.

The trade body RenewableUK says this could see ambitions for the Humber scaled back.

Spokesman Adam Bell said: “It will have an impact on offshore – people don’t realise that a lot of money that goes into building offshore is coming from the development of onshore wind.

“Anyone looking to build a factory in the UK will look at this and ask if the Government will pull the rug from under this for political reasons. It is entirely possible that ambitions would have to be scaled back. It is entirely possible that everything we would want to see happen on the Humber won’t happen.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has said the Government has a “clear mandate” to invest heavily in on- and offshore wind.

Labour East Hull MP Karl Turner said the move was “another blow to the PM’s claim that this Government is the greenest government ever.”

“It is concerning the Chancellor is proposing yet more cuts that will undermine manufacturing and could see the end of many wind power sites,” he added. “The Government should be fully supporting the renewable industry as it attracts investment and creates much needed jobs.”

A spokesman for German manufacturer Siemens, which wants to build a factory to assemble turbines and make the nacelle component in Hull, said: “Clearly everyone wants a stable investment environment. We have gone through our planning application and it has been accepted by Hull and we are still on track with our plans.”

There have been increasing concerns about the long lasting impact scores of wind turbines will have on the East Riding.

Mr Knight, who was among 100 Tory MPs who wrote to David Cameron urging him to cut subsidies for onshore wind, said: “The Chancellor appears to be an ally in that he is anxious to reduce the subsidy even further. We are a Coalition government, not a one party Government but it does appear the Liberal Democrats are prepared to move towards what I would call a common sense policy.

“Poorer members of society are disproportionately paying these subsidies because they are slapped on electricity bills so rich landowners can get a good return by allowing wind farms on their property.”

Mr Knight said subsidies were a “wasteful way of creating jobs”.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “The Government remains committed to onshore wind as a cost effective and valuable part of the diverse energy mix we want in the UK. We have consulted on a proposal to reduce renewable obligation support for onshore wind by 10 per cent to 0.9 ROCs and the Government’s decision on subsidy levels for 2013-17 will be announced shortly.”

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