Backbench backlash over wind farms row

DAVID Cameron’s former Energy Minister has joined other backbench Conservatives in calling on the Government to end the confusion over its policy on wind energy.

Charles Hendry, who was sacked in September’s Government reshuffle, yesterday waded into the row sparked by his replacement John Hayes’s call for a moratorium on onshore wind farms. The Government has sought to distance itself from Mr Hayes’s comments, but the Yorkshire Post reported widespread concern yesterday that “mixed messages” over renewable energy from Westminster may prevent large investors such as Siemens from setting up factories along the Humber – putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Mr Hendry told MPs that even countries able to rely on large quantities of fossil fuels are now investing in wind turbines for the future. “Oil and gas-rich countries such as Norway, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan recognise that an integral part of their energy security is the development of their own renewable resources, including onshore wind,” he said.

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“If it is right for them, it must be right for us as well.”

Calling for “clarity for investors” from the Government, Mr Hendry added: “Vital long-term investment decisions are being made now, and people need that clarity.”

Around 20 backbench Tories put their signatures to a letter of protest to the Prime Minister in the wake of Mr Hayes’s comments that Britain has “enough” wind turbines.

Answering questions in the Commons yesterday, Mr Hayes joked that he had “the wind in my sails” and said pointedly on renewables: “I am profoundly interested in renewable technologies that deliver.”

But he was again slapped down by his boss, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who insisted Government policy remains to support wind power – and admitted that he and Mr Hayes often do not see eye to eye.

“The Minister for Energy and I may occasionally agree on issues of substance – I certainly don’t agree with the remarks he made the other day,” Mr Davey said.

“Investment in onshore wind is a serious matter, and we need to make sure that investors know we are committed.

“I lead on renewable energy strategy, I decide the policy and industry has heard that.”

Bill Carmichael: Page 15.