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RenewableUK accuses Tories of cash-for-influence energy policy

The UK’s green energy trade association has launched a stinging attack on the Conservative Party after it promised to “halt the spread” of onshore wind farms in its General Election manifesto.

RenewableUK issued a strongly worded statement accusing the Tories of publishing an “anti-green growth, anti-clean energy” set of policy proposals that were shaped by the “dwindling bunch” of its fossil fuel-supporting financial backers.

Launching the party’s manifesto today, Prime Minister David Cameron said he would axe Government support for onshore wind energy should he be re-elected to Number 10 next month.

He also described how a new Conservative Government would change the law to allow local councils to rule on any wind farm applications in England and Wales.

The Tories’ policy paper described: "Onshore wind now makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix and has been part of the necessary increase in renewable capacity.

"Onshore wind farms often fail to win public support, however, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires. As a result we will end any new public subsidy and change the law so local people have the final say on wind farm applications."

But RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith described the Tory plans as “breathtakingly illogical and… idiotic”.

In a statement, he added: “The Conservatives’ manifesto spectacularly fails to recognise the high level of support among ordinary voters for onshore wind, which stays consistently at two-thirds of the British public. The Tories have also failed to acknowledge the significant contribution that onshore and offshore wind make to the UK’s electricity mix – currently around 10% of the UK’s entire energy needs, and growing rapidly year on year.

“They’re seriously misinformed in their suggestion that wind power can’t provide firm capacity – the experts at National Grid say there’s no problem in taking maximum advantage of wind whenever it’s available, which can now be predicted with pinpoint accuracy.

“Onshore wind is one of the cheapest of all sources of energy, so by turning their backs on it, the Tories are proposing to deprive voters of one of the most effective means of keeping all our electricity bills down. So when the Tories claim in their manifesto that they intend to cut carbon emissions as cost-effectively as possible they’re being breathtakingly illogical and therefore idiotic.

“They’re also putting at risk 19,000 jobs in the onshore wind industry – which could rise to over 30,000 in the next decade under a supportive government. The onshore wind sector delivered £1.6 billion in investment in the UK last year – that growth would be lost if the Tories had their way and closed down this industry.

“Overall, this is an anti-green growth, anti-clean energy manifesto that will only find favour with the dwindling bunch of fossil fuel advocates who still donate to the Conservative party and thus dictate their energy policy."

Chief Executive of fellow trade association ADBA, Charlotte Morton, commented: “The Conservative manifesto is lukewarm at best on support for the green economy.

“Anaerobic digestion has enormous potential to support rural employment, improve our energy security and reduce carbon emissions. Our industry grew by 500% in the last parliament – developers and investors are ready to continue that growth, but need clear support for renewable energy and resource management to do so.”

And Chief Executive of the REA, Dr Nina Skorupska, added: “It is deeply concerning that a party which prides itself on its renewable energy record while in Government has neglected to put forward anything close to the required level of leadership and ambition to enable the renewable energy industry to play a key role in the UK’s energy sector.

“Rather than building on what they have already achieved in the last five years, the Conservative manifesto fails to even mention key technologies such as solar and biomass which would help us reach the climate change targets Cameron recently signed up to in a cost effective way.

"It is extremely disappointing that the manifesto does not reflect the ambition we expected and hoped for from the Conservatives.”

Source: http://www.clickgreen.org.uk

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