UK Conservative Party to end onshore subsidies

UK: The Conservative Party has pledged to end wind subsidies after the next general election in 2015 and give local councils more power in approving new projects.

The 144MW Fallago Rig wind farm in Scotland came online last year

The party said it remains committed to cutting the country's carbon emissions and believes onshore wind will remain key to doing so.

But Conservative junior energy minister Michael Fallon said there are enough bill-payer funded onshore wind projects in the pipeline to meet the country's 2020 EU targets.

"The next Conservative government will end any additional bill-payer subsidy for onshore wind and give local councils the decisive say on any new wind farms," he said.

Fallon said a Conservative government would change the law on onshore wind subsidies within six months following the election next year.

In response, trade body RenewableUK CEO Maria McCaffery said: "Onshore wind is the lowest cost form of renewable energy we have, and cheaper than new nuclear. The industry has already seen a reduction in financial support, and a trajectory for further reduction is clearly laid out.

"However cutting all support overnight amounts to a moratorium as the minister has suggested. That's bad news for jobs and energy bill payers. Nearly 19,000 people currently owe their jobs to the UK's onshore wind industry, with potential for thousands more over the next decade."

Yesterday, the coalition government said five offshore projects were among eight renewable energy developments to qualify for its new "contracts for difference" subsidy regime.

There have been weeks of speculation that the party was considering making a pledge against onshore wind projects. Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps told journalists onshore turbines "upset everybody" and turbines were better sited offshore.

The announcement comes two weeks after local government minister Eric Pickles extended the period of time during which he can personally rule on appeals against decisions to block onshore wind farms.