It is excellent news for Scotland that the wind farm frenzy has been halted by Westminster. Predictably, it is suggested the SNP will challenge this decision. I suggest they think very carefully. If independent, Scotland is already committed to a huge expense even if subsidies end now.
At the moment 92 per cent of the subsidy for this bonanza of short-term jobs came from the electricity bills of the rest of the UK.
It was made clear during the campaign that if independent, Scotland would have to pay the subsidies for the next 25 years for the turbines on Scottish soil. With the surge in accepted planning permissions north of the Border that would be half the UK turbines paid for by 8 per cent of the UK population.
Think about it. The housing stock of Scotland has been devalued with 46 per cent of Scotland having views of turbines. The tourism industry has been devalued, which will be apparent when wind farm workers are no longer accommodated.
This was called “onshore wind business tourism” in a report by Biggar Economics. Local democracy has been destroyed by council decisions being overruled by the Scottish Government – last year 46 per cent of appeals were successful. Individuals have been harmed. I suggest the Scottish Government spends its money trying to undo the harm it has done to this country and not on judicial reviews of sensible decisions.
Lawyers, civil servants and environmental experts have already made enough money on public inquiries throughout the country for the last decade not to need the money from a judicial review.
Scottish Renewables is right to describe the Westminster government’s decision to bring forward the ending of subsidies for onshore wind developments as “neither fair nor reasonable”. One aspect of this unfairness is a glaring example of environmental injustice.
As I explain in more detail in my recent book, Energy: all that Matters, onshore wind would already be competitive with fossil-fuel power generation were the two contending on a level playing field, which would only be the case if fossil fuel generation was obliged to internalise the costs of its carbon emissions.
This could be done by obliging retrofit of carbon capture and storage, or, where this could not be achieved for technical reasons, paying the equivalent sum into a renewables development fund.
In a fair and reasonable market, onshore wind would undoubtedly have a major contribution to make to decarbonising electricity.
The decision is also unreasonable as it undermines the traditional image of the Westminster government as being trustworthy in honouring its prior commitments.
This move will not only damage investor confidence in renewables (as the Tory government clearly hopes), but also in nuclear and other sectors that require sustained government support to compete against unabated fossil fuels. As for Amber Rudd MP’s glib suggestion that solar can do just as well as wind: she has clearly not been in Scotland for much of this spring …
(Prof) Paul L Younger FREng
Rankine Chair of Engineering and Professor of Energy Engineering
School of Engineering
University of Glasgow
the government has announced an end to onshore wind power subsides. I wish to emphasise that no one has banned onshore wind farms. Companies are free to apply to build them and sell the electricity.
The market gives priority to renewable energy. RenewableUK boasts that onshore wind is relatively cheap to develop. So let’s see how many of these companies put their money where their mouth is and develop subsidy-free wind farms.
Everyone should pause to thank hundreds of campaigners who have given thousands of unpaid hours to expose the truth behind inappropriate wind farms.
I believe that their work has brought about this change. However, they need to remain vigilant, as Tory governments don’t last forever and undoubtedly the green blob will be back.
The decision by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to end wind farm subsidies early is an excellent one which will delight all who love Scotland’s hills.
Upland areas of Scotland are blighted by these monstrosities which are far from electricity markets, often make rural properties unsaleable, produce fluctuating output or none at all, and will require complete overhaul with replacement gearboxes in ten or 20 years.
But the DECC should go further and apply a moratorium now on all planned schemes and establish a working group to examine how best to dismantle and scrap the towers and blades in future years. Removing the thousands of concrete blocks which so pollute the ground will be a Herculean task, however.