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Britain Abolishes Onshore Wind Subsidies A Year Early

Jim Pickard, Financial Times

The UK government has set itself on a collision course with the wind power industry by announcing it will end subsidies for onshore wind a year early, a move that will delight the Conservative party’s grassroots.

People walk on the beach near a wind farm in Ardrossan, Scotland, U.K., Wednesday, May 2, 2007. Photographer: Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg News

A wind farm forms the backdrop in Ardrossan, Scotland

Amber Rudd, energy secretary, said she would legislate to close the Renewables Obligation subsidy scheme for new onshore wind farms from April 1 2016 — instead of 2017, as had been planned. After the closure of the RO, companies must compete for a strictly rationed system of subsidies.

The FT reported two weeks ago that the industry was threatening to sue if ministers cut short the scheme a year early.

However, Ms Rudd said up to 5.2GW of onshore wind capacity could be eligible for grace periods offered to projects that already had planning consent, a grid connection as well as evidence of land rights. That caveat could potentially head off legal action by wind farm operators.

The government said on Thursday that the UK was already “well on the way” to meeting its climate change targets. It said that in 2014 more than £800m of subsidies had helped onshore wind to generate 5 per cent of the UK’s total electricity.

The Tories are also changing the law to give local people the final say on large applications rather than the energy secretary, who previously had to approve schemes of more than 50MW.

“We have a long-term plan to keep the lights on and our homes warm, power the economy with cleaner energy and keep bills as low as possible for hard-working families,” said Ms Rudd.

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