The conservative party is planning to withdraw support for onshore wind farms in the UK, which could potentially damage what is a growing and prosperous industry. The party is proposing a moratorium, which will come into effect after 2020 in the belief that wind farms have become “self defeating”.
To compensate for abandoning support in onshore wind their manifesto will pledge to give greater support to offshore wind installations. The proposals for offshore wind are an attempt to show that the party is not abandoning its focus on strong environmental policies. The manifesto also aims to give more priority to solar power which has been highlighted by plans to get schools in the UK to install solar panels. The school would have to fund the £10,000 costs themselves, but would then be able to recoup the cost through the feed in tariff.
The decision to abandon onshore wind comes after an intense debate between the coalition partners over the pros and cons of using the technology. Tory backbench MP’s have been particularly animated about reducing the focus on renewable power and are more interested in the prospect of shale gas and fracking, which has reportedly caused environmental damage and fierce opposition, both here in the UK and also where it has been implemented in the United States. A spokesman for the government has said that David Cameron is fully supportive of the opponents of onshore wind farms. The conservative’s coalition partners however, have moved to block a proposed cap on the output from onshore wind power.
The government have effectively signed a compromise agreement on renewable energy targets with their backbenchers, in order to prevent any issues in the run up to the next general election. The measures to be proposed in the manifesto will rule out the building of new wind turbines after 2020. Other measures that are under consideration are caps on the levels of subsidies and planning restriction. The party has said that the measures are necessary because on shore wind has become unpopular especially with their own voters. The fear is that many of these measures will damage the industry unnecessarily.
The government has said that it expects to meet its long term commitments on renewable energy targets. Assurances have also been given that wind power projects that are currently under construction or in the planning phase will not be adversely affected.
Friends of the earth have backed the government’s stance on solar energy, welcoming the promotion of clean energy technologies. However they have also made it clear that they were disappointed with the government’s swipe at onshore wind.