The UK government wants to scrap onshore wind subsidies from April 2016 despite opposition in the House of Lords

Onshore wind subsidies to be scrapped

The UK government will push ahead with plans to scrap subsidies for new onshore windfarms despite a previous rejection by the House of Lords.

A part of the government’s Energy Bill, the plan foresees termination of subsidies in April this year – one year earlier than originally expected.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd said that as the requirement formed a part of the Conservatives’ 2015 election manifesto, it has to be put back.

"Let me be clear: there is no ambiguity on this. This is a manifesto commitment,” Rudd said during the Energy Bill introduction in the House of Commons.

"We signalled our thinking before the last election and we put it before the British people in black and white to end new public subsidies for onshore wind. There are long established conventions with regard to manifesto commitments that are well understood and we will stand firm on this."

The government believes the decision will save between £20m and £200m every year.

However, opponents are less enthusiastic about the prospects.

"Onshore wind is cheap in terms of renewables, the closure of the [renewables obligation] is set to save bill payers the princely sum of 30p, yet it will produce up to an additional 63 million tonnes of carbon dioxide,” said SNP energy spokesman Callum McCaig.

Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy also criticised the government’s decision.

"This government are trying to legislate to close down a scheme that has successfully driven investment into the cheapest low carbon energy source that is available to us today,” she said.

"Wind farms are already providing power to more than eight million homes in Britain and once again it will be energy bill payers who pay the price for this short-term decision."

Chances are that the peers will again reject the proposal and insist on its removal from the Bill.

The Bill also makes provision to hand the power to local authorities to decide on large-scale onshore wind farm applications – another point criticised by Labour, who would like to see local communities themselves being able to decide about the proposed schemes.

"We very much support the right of local communities to decide. What we don't understand is why this Government doesn't,” Nandy said.

"Not just because through the real-time actions that they are taking through this Bill they will effectively block wind farms where there is strong local support, but also because in relation to fracking applications, for example, the government is taking exactly the opposite approach and seeking to deny local communities the right to decide what happens in their areas."

The Energy Bill will also establish the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) as an independent regulator and transfer regulatory powers and functions along with new powers to the body.

"The absence of a strong regulator is where there have been significant problems in the oil and gas industry, particularly when it comes to access to infrastructure," said SNP energy spokesman Callum McCaig.

"The inability to get two parties with competing commercial interests to agree a deal that will access the same piece of oil and gas infrastructure, a pipeline for example, has meant that the investment decisions in the past have not been implemented."



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