Fergus Ewing slams UK move to cut windfarm support

THE Scottish Government is demanding assurances from the new Tory regime at Westminster over fears that windfarm subsidies face being axed.

Ewing says lack of clarity could hurt investment. Picture: Esme Allen

Energy minister Fergus Ewing has written to his opposite number in the UK Government, Amber Rudd, warning that the lack of clarity could hit investment and is calling for the devolved administrations to be consulted on the issue.

Mr Ewing also wants the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change to consult with the energy to “keep the lights on across the UK.”

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The UK Government is reportedly poised to bring an end to onshore subsidies, but the recent Queen’s Speech say there will be consultation with the devolved administrations on any changes to the subsidy system.

But Mr Ewing’s letter states: “I am concerned about recent statements coming from your Department relating to proposed changes in support for renewable energy.

“Any lack of clarity has the potential to stall a very substantial pipeline of investment in the UK and Scotland and dent the UK and Scotland’s reputation with developers and investors.

“We have not received any information from your Department on the possible options you are considering or what analysis has been done to assess the impact on projects in Scotland. Given the importance of the renewables sector to Scotland and prior commitments to consult, I would appreciate your reassurance that you will not make any changes to the subsidy arrangements for onshore wind without agreement from Scottish Ministers.”

The Scottish Government’s call for clarity has won the backing of WWF Scotland.

“There is a real risk of undermining the development of the cheapest form of renewables in the country,” said WWF director Lang Banks.

“Cutting support for the lowest cost renewable technology would be a backward step that will either see bills rise or climate targets missed.

“Opinion polls consistently show onshore wind to be one of the most popular forms of electricity, generating thousands of jobs across Scotland and helping to cut our carbon emissions.

“We urge the UK Government to think again on its plans to cut support and encourage the Scottish Government to continue to back the development of onshore wind in Scotland.”