The UK has confirmed that it will cease allowing onshore wind farms access to the country’s main renewables subsidy scheme starting April 1, 2016.
Following the re-election of the Conservative Party in the May elections, Amber Rudd was appointed as the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, and almost immediately came out and promised that her government would end support for new onshore wind farms and hand planning authority over to local councils.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Ms. Rudd said that though she “quite enjoyed seeing” wind farms, it was time to put “the local community back in charge” and that she would be ensuring that onshore wind farm subsidies would be halted as soon as possible.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has followed through on its leader’s calls, and this week the government has announced that it intends to block new onshore wind farms from having access to the Renewables Obligation Scheme, the country’s primarily renewables subsidy program.
This, despite calls from many parties asking the government to reconsider their plans.
Earlier this week, RenewableUK released its own comments, “urging the Government to think carefully before it implements any cuts in financial support to onshore wind.”
“The Government’s decision to end prematurely financial support for onshore wind sends a chilling signal not just to the renewable energy industry, but to all investors right across the UK’s infrastructure sectors,” said RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery.
“We are calling for the Energy Secretary to hold immediate talks with the wind industry so that the impact of these cuts can be managed, or at least be reduced. We note that the Government is allowing some flexibility – so-called “grace periods” – to allow projects where significant investment commitments have already been made in good faith to proceed as planned – but this still means that many much-needed projects will be lost unless the cut-off points for financial support are reviewed and extended.”
Whether or not the UK government will listen to calls for further discussion is unsure, given that it has been a long standing pledge of the government to begin restricting renewable subsidies. Nevertheless, despite the somewhat dramatic overtones in the comments made by McCaffery, RenewableUK has a point, and hopefully some measure of support will appear to help the onshore wind industry continue strong.