Skip to main content

Wind Farm Applications (Subsidies)

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 June 2015

5. What assessment she has made of the effect of the reduction in Government subsidies on the number of wind farm applications. (900540)

As my right hon. Friend said during her statement to the House on Monday, we estimate that around 7.1 GW of onshore wind capacity proposed across the UK will not be eligible for the grace period and is therefore unlikely to go ahead as a result of the announcement of 18 June. That equates to around 250 projects totalling around 2,500 turbines.

Durham county has an excellent record on renewable energy development, especially wind farms. The issue now in the county is the cumulative impact of so many wind farms in a given area, and, because of that, the planning system is now working and further development is being rejected. If the planning system is working, why is there a need to have a blanket ban on wind farm subsidies, which will affect jobs and investment in the future?

As I and my right hon. Friend have said on a number of occasions, we believe that onshore wind has met our targets. Deployment will reach between 11 GW and 13 GW, which is within our target range. We want to keep bills down for consumers and to promote other sources of renewable technologies that will add to our energy mix. The hon. Gentleman must accept that, as the cost of onshore wind comes down, we do not want permanently to subsidise an industry that has the ability to stand on its own two feet.

Does my hon. Friend agree that we have heard an awful lot about the generation of power, but in my constituency of Tonbridge and Malling a lot is being done to insulate and therefore save power in a different way? Will she please tell us a little about what she is doing to bring forward the commitment to do more with 1 million homes?

My hon. Friend is right that energy generation is one part of the story but so too is energy use and ensuring that we have proper policies to try to manage the demand for energy. Our policies, such as insulating homes and the warm home discounts, are under review, and we will make a statement soon.

That is a fascinating reply, but it is not altogether adjacent to the issue of wind farm applications, from which I think the Minister was led astray, good naturedly, by the hon. Gentleman.

Will the Minister confirm that, under existing secondary legislation, her Department is obliged to issue renewable energy certificates to all applicants until March 2017? Will she also confirm that her Department will continue to issue renewables obligation certificates after March 2016 in the event that her proposed legislation to bring them to an end is not on the statute book by that date?

We intend to bring forward primary legislation in the Energy Bill to close the renewables obligation for onshore wind early. As my right hon. Friend said in her statement, that will mean that the grace period will be for those that already have planning consent, grid connection and land rights.

May I thank the Government for having the guts to get rid of the subsidy on wind turbines? If it does mean fewer applications, it will bring three cheers from the people of the Ribble Valley. Does my right hon. Friend agree that wind turbines have a visual impact, and is it not about time that local people finally had their wishes known as far as their siting is concerned?

Yes, my hon. Friend is exactly right. It is vital that local communities’ views are taken into account and, under this Government’s policy, they now will be.