Wind farm subsidy axe ‘serves England’s interests’

Business chiefs in Scotland today claimed controversial moves to axe £800m of wind farm subsidies was politically motivated and made in the interests of England.

Picture: Ian Rutherford

Renewables industry leaders met with energy minister Fergus Ewing after the UK Government pulled the plug on the lucrative subsidy regime yesterday.

It has prompted fears that billions of pounds in new developments will be halted in Scotland where 70 per cent UK proposed wind farms are to be located.

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Mr Ewing met with industry representatives from the renewables sector in the Highlands today.

Stewart Nicol, chief executive at Inverness Chamber of Commerce, commented: “Given the contribution renewable energy development makes to the Highland economy in terms of supply-chain contracts, community benefit, skills development and investment, it is hugely concerning that Westminster has moved to progress these plans ahead of schedule.

“It is hard not to conclude that this is a political intervention based on the needs of south of the border, and shows total lack of recognition for the industry’s importance in Scotland as a provider of employment, economic growth and inward investment.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change, announced yesterday their intention to close the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind from April 2016. This was met with outcry by the Scottish industry who claimed it could cost £3 billion investment in Scotland.

Mr Ewing heard concerns today from the Chamber of Commerce and industry representatives including Energy North, Falck Renewables, RES and E.On to listen to their concerns.

He said afterwards that the move will have a “negative impact” on the renewables industry in Scotland.

“There are many communities and companies who have invested significant amounts of money in renewables scheme and have now found the goal posts have been moved,” he said.

“I am keen to listen to their concerns, understand the impact and continue to work together in making representations to the UK Government.

“The industry has been working hard to drive costs down over recent years and making onshore wind one of the most cost effective renewable energies and this decision puts this hard work and progress in jeopardy.

The Scottish Government wants to generate 100 per cent of the country’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020 and wind farms are a key part of this.

Gordon MacDougall, managing director of Western Europe, RES, said wind farms are “on the verge” of being able to compete commercially with other forms energy.

“It would be in no-one’s interests for this important opportunity to be squandered,” he said.

“Stable and supportive policy across the UK is the key stepping stone to this subsidy free future.

“We therefore welcome the Scottish Government’s strong position against the early closure of the Renewables Obligation and look forward to working with industry groups to ensure onshore wind can continue to contribute towards meeting our climate change targets at the lowest cost to the consumer – another key manifesto commitment of the UK Government.”