United Kingdom

United Kingdom

New energy minister commits to wind

UNITED KINGDOM: The new UK minister for energy and climate change Ed Davey has reiterated the government's commitment to wind power in the face of vociferous opposition from some government figures and certain elements of the press.

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Davey was appointed following the resignation of Chris Huhne, who has been charged with perverting the course of justice by allegedly persuading his ex-wife to take the blame for a driving offence he committed. Like Huhne, Davey is a Liberal Democrat.

On the other side of the coalition, more than 100 Conservative MPs took advantage of Huhne's departure and wrote to prime minister David Cameron demanding cuts to subsidies paid to onshore wind farms and changes to planning rules that would make it easier for local people to block new proposed wind projects.

Meanwhile, there have been attacks on wind energy in the press. Right-wing national newspaper, The Daily Mail, said that Huhne's departure gave the government a "heaven-sent opportunity to rethink its energy policy ... it is now obvious that the wind policy is sheer flatulence."

The government has hit back, with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, another Liberal Democrat, saying: "The choice for the UK is simple: wake up, or end up playing catch-up. Low-carbon markets are the next frontier in the battle for global pre-eminence".

Davey insisted the Conservative Party supports the UK's renewable targets. "My ministerial colleagues in the department - (Conservative MPs) Greg Barker and Charles Hendry - are very supportive of the policy. There will be no change of direction simply because there is a change in the person at the helm at the department. I want to deliver on Chris Huhne's fantastic work," he said. "He had the support of the prime minister and the deputy prime minister and I know I will have as I deliver on the strategy," added Davey.

Huhne was praised by environmentalists for his strong support of renewable energy. In a speech at RenewableUK's conference last year he hit back at critics of wind power, calling them "an unholy alliance of short-termists, armchair engineers, climate sceptics and vested interests, who are selling the UK economy short".

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