Onshore wind energy debate in Westminster

Aikengall wind farm in the Lammermuirs,
Aikengall wind farm in the Lammermuirs,

An assurance has been sought from the UK Government that industrial onshore wind will not be promoted over other forms of renewable energy.

During questions to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Borders MP John Lamont said: “I very much support renewable energy but many of my constituents in the Scottish Borders feel we have our fair share of onshore wind.

“So can the Minister assure me that nothing in Government policy will promote onshore wind farm development over other forms of renewable energy?”

In response, Minister for Clean Energy, Claire Perry MP responded: “That is exactly the point of technology neutrality,” referring to the UK Government policy that as many forms of renewable energy as possible should be allowed to bid for Government support to avoid supporting one type of energy over another.”

Earlier on during the session, Ms Perry had pointed out that the UK Conservative Government was elected on a manifesto pledge that further subsidies for large scale onshore wind projects were not necessary.

The exchange comes after a series of controversial large scale wind farm applications in the Scottish Borders, and concerns that a number of wind farm applications have been refused at local authority level only for that decision to be overturned on appeal to the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government’s position is that: “The Scottish Government is committed to taking full advantage of our twenty five per cent share in Europe’s wave and wind power capacity. We are determined to get rid of harmful emissions from our environment while capitalising on the vast economic opportunities our natural advantage in renewable energy poses.

“Ministers expect new onshore wind developments to continue to contribute to renewables targets in the coming years, but only in the right places where the planning system decides they should be granted consent, and as part of a wide range of other renewable technologies.

“It is not the case that wind farms can be built simply anywhere without regard to wildlife or scenery.”

Scottish Power’s chief executive, Keith Anderson, believes onshore wind energy is best in Scotland, reportedly telling the Daily Mail last weekend that Scotland had the best wind in Northern Europe and there is not enough wind or the scale of suitable land in England to make new projects financially viable.