Tories Troubled by Wind

Tories Troubled By Wind

Last week saw 100 MPs, majority of whom are conservative and including Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford and Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, write a letter to the Prime Minister demanding a dramatic reduction in subsidies to on-shore wind. While off shore wind receives no subsidy, all other renewable energy receives the Renewable Obligation Payment. The complaint of these 100 MPs is that they should not get this payment.

Trish Marchant, from Medway Green Party, is keen to challenge this demand. “It is a smoke screen to pick on on-shore wind. Perhaps Tracey, Mark and the others would like to get back the billions of pounds of subsidy paid to the nuclear and fossil fuel companies over the years? These subsidies have been much higher per year and still represent a significant benefit to the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industry. Lets no forget that tax payers still stand to fork out £70 billion to decommission the old nukes. And the subsidies the government do pay out are hugely in favour of the nuclear industry which they describe, contentiously, as low carbon.”

In their letter the MPs describe turbines as intermittent, a term commonly used by anti-wind campaigners. RenewableUK, the organisation which represents the wind industry, state that this simply isn’t true. They explain this that while wind power varies around the country it is rarely off, and the more wind generators there are the better as while the wind varies across the country it rarely (if ever) reduces to zero.

Trish Marchant added “It could be that these MPs just don’t like wind energy, maybe have an interest in nuclear and fossil fuel companies, and or belong to the Nigel Lawson school of climate change sceptics. More than 80% of us do actually like wind turbines and appreciate why they are there so the opposition of these MPs is clearly undemocratic. Also one must assume that Tracey, Mark and others don’t realise the employment wind energy can produce. In Germany for example, where they have 10 times more turbines than us, they employ 250,000 people to maintain them. That could be a significant boost to job creation, at present we employ less than 10,000 people in the wind sector.”

Environmentalist are keen to stress the other benefits to wind energy; far less road or rail traffic required after a turbine is installed as opposed to coal, oil, gas and nuclear hence secondary pollution is reduced dramatically. All public bodies, from universities to hospitals, are required to reduce their CO2 emissions or pay massive costs back to the government. Putting turbines can be seen as a simple, low impact solution to this requirement. The MPs letter also mentions the planning laws being to lax in allowing inappropriate wind turbine placement.

Trish Marchant finds this hypocritical “This is a bit rich as Labour and the Tories both swept in new regulations telling us we could build our porches and conservatories more easily. But environmentalists have opposed this bill since it’s inception as it will mean we as the people have very limited or no rights to oppose construction of anything seen by central government as of national importance. The anti-nuclear movement saw this immediately as a Government move to ease the building of new nuclear power stations. The MPs are happy to support this for their own ends but wish to oppose it when it suits them. Surely it is better to see the faults with a law and get it changed before, not use it as an excuse to denigrate wind power?”

Notes:

  1. RenewableUK paper on variability of wind http://www.bwea.com/pdf/briefings/Wind-Power-Variability.pdf
  2. Electricity question “What happens when the wind stops blowing?” http://www.ewea.org/index.php?id=1884
  3. Letter from 100 MPs http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9061554/Full-letter-from-MPs-to-David-Cameron-on-wind-power-subsidies.html
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One Comment to “Tories Troubled by Wind”

  1. Onshore wind power cost households less than £5 last year; by comparison, the rising cost of imported gas added around £120:
    http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/news/news-archive/2012/on-shore-wind-power-cost-households-less-than-5-last-year

    David M. Davison

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