Green MSP calls for UK Government to revisit onshore wind subsidy

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The UK Government has been urged to revisit its decision to remove onshore wind projects from a key renewables scheme.

UK Business Secretary Greg Clark was pressed to allow onshore wind projects to compete in future Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions.

Wind farms over Blacklaw near the Firth of Forth.  Picture: Ian Rutherford

Wind farms over Blacklaw near the Firth of Forth. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Green MSP Andy Wightman called for reassurances for the onshore wind industry when Mr Clark appeared before Holyrood’s Economy Committee.

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He said: “One of the strengths of the Scottish economy is renewables and yet we have 7.5 GW of onshore wind capacity in the planning pipeline without a viable route to market because of the decision the government has made on excluding onshore wind from Contracts for Difference.

“Do you recognise that with onshore wind, from your own government’s figures, being 50 per cent cheaper that nuclear, it’s a well established technology and it also has multiplier effects, that this should be revisited particularly in the context of Scottish renewables?”

Green MSP Andy Wightman. Picture: Jon Savage

Green MSP Andy Wightman. Picture: Jon Savage

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Mr Wightman highlighted indications from UK Energy Minister Claire Perry that the exclusion of onshore wind from the auctions might be under reconsideration.

Last year it was announced projects on the Scottish islands would be allowed to compete in the next round of the contracts.

Mr Clark said the policy to focus on offshore wind was a “strategic decision” that had been successful but the government was reviewing its energy policy.

But he added: “All along the coastline in Scotland and the rest of the UK you have industrial facilities that have been built because of that clear long term commitment.

“I wouldn’t want to move away from what has been a very successful approach that has brought costs down, created jobs and given what the industry wanted which is a long term confidence.

“I wouldn’t want to change that lightly.”