TAXPAYERS handed wind energy firms £1m a month last year to not produce energy, it has emerged, as pressure grows for a rethink in onshore wind turbine subsidies.
Conservatives have urged the Prime Minister to stand by a promise to shake up the subsidy system which one MP yesterday claimed was now more focused on creating money than on meeting the UK’s energy needs.
Selby MP Nigel Adams told MPs it was time to end the cash subsidy system which hands money to companies even when there is no wind, or too much wind, to turn into power.
He said: “Britain’s onshore wind farms are routinely paid large sums of money not to generate electricity—as much as £l million in each week of 2014.
“Those payments, described officially as constraint payments, ultimately end up on consumers’ bills, meaning that the British public are effectively subsidising the UK’s onshore wind industry not to produce electricity.”
Already Yorkshire has some of the UK’s most densely populated counties when it comes to wind turbines, with East Yorkshire particularly at risk.
Late last year Communities Secretary Eric Pickles cited “the cumulative effects” of wind turbines in the region when he kicked out a bid for six 128 metre-high turbines at the proposed River Valley Wind Farm near Spaldington, saying that the effect of those and existing and consented turbines are “particularly important in this case with respect to the likely impact on the character and appearance of the area and on heritage assets”.
Mr Adams drew on the legacy of former Republican President Ronald Reagan when he told MPs the party was right to look again at wind subsidies.
He said: “President Reagan once turned down $50,000 that Congress had authorised for redecorating the White House, but he did accept private donations to spruce up the presidential home on the sound basis that one man’s subsidy is another man’s tax burden.
“There is no better example of that than the burden of a levy on everyone’s energy bills to cover subsidy payments to renewable energy firms and landowners who happen to have wind farms or individual turbines on their land—the irony being that those who are already asset-rich become even more wealthy at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.”
Mr Adams added: “I do not blame farmers and landowners for wanting to join in this gold rush. They do not set policy; the Government do, and it is time to call time.
“We have more than 8,000 onshore wind turbines operational in this country, with 1,300 under construction, 5,200 awaiting construction and almost 6,000 in planning. “
Last year David Cameron revealed a Conservative Government would commit to axing any new subsidies for onshore wind turbines.