Wind Farm Subsidies (Abolition) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:02 pm on 6th March 2015.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Portsmouth, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change 12:02 pm, 6th March 2015

I have considerable sympathy for that point of view. We have made it absolutely clear that we will remove onshore wind subsidies in the future, and that the current 10% that is in the pipeline for onshore wind is plenty. After that, if the planning system allows a wind farm to go ahead, and if people want to come forward with a non-subsidised wind farm—and given that the planning system will be tightened to ensure that local people’s voices are heard—there could be future opportunities. As the Prime Minister has said, if they can make their case, they will do so, but I suspect that they will not.

The commitment from Conservative Members is clear. I personally have fought against the placing of onshore wind turbines in some of the most beautiful parts of Suffolk—and therefore the most beautiful parts of the country—in landscapes that were admired and painted by Constable in years gone by and that have changed little since. As a constituency MP, I have fought proposals to put wind farms in places where they would damage the local environment and the local amenity. The policy that we inherited had an override over local considerations because of the impact on climate change of putting up wind farms.

So we have taken steps in the planning system, some of which have been mentioned today, but we are clear that where local people do not want wind farms, the planning system will be strengthened, and there will not be these subsidies when we can remove them. My hon. and learned Friend Mr Cox asked, not unreasonably, for a deadline, so I shall set it out this way. The 10% of the electricity system from onshore wind is expected by the coalition Government by 2020—that is a Government figure—and the Prime Minister has set out that then there will be no need for future subsidies. If, as the costs of all renewables come down, we are able not only to deal with the problem of climate change, but to do so in a way that allows us to remove subsidies sooner, so be it. That framework sets a clear deadline, but the clarity of our commitment to remove subsidies for onshore wind is stark—we shall do this. I hope that gives him the commitment he was seeking.