Wind farms built across the British countryside have been “over subsidised and wasteful of public money”, David Cameron has said.
In his strongest ever criticism of green energy, the Prime Minister suggested too much taxpayer cash has been given to on-shore wind farms, which are now highly profitable for developers because of generous susbsidies.
“We’re cutting the subsidy to onshore wind because I think it has been over-subsidised and wasteful of public money,” he said during weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. “The second thing we’re doing is the Localism Act will give local communities a greater say over issues like wind turbines”.
Mr Cameron’s comments came in response to Ian Swales, MP for Redcar, who is objecting to the installation of 120-metre wind turbines within a mile of two villages in his constituency.
“Does the Prime Minister agree that giant turbines should not be built so close to residential areas without local people having a say?” Mr Swales asked.
There is no compensation for those living near a wind farm in Britain, unlike countries such as Denmark. However, there are currently two bills proposed by a backbencher and a peer suggesting a minimum distance between a wind turbine and a dwelling.
The Government is being put under pressure over the issue by 100 Conservative backbenchers, who this month wrote a letter to the Prime Minister complaining about the spread of costly wind farms across the countryside.
In the letter, they claimed: “In these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines.”
In response to the letter, Mr Cameron last week claimed there claimed there are “perfectly hard-headed reasons” for building more on-shore wind farms.
Mr Cameron said he favoured wind power regardless of Britain’s European Union targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will be achieved by shutting down old coal stations and replacing them with “greener” energy like wind.
Ministers plans to persuade local communities to agree to wind farms by giving them “benefits”.
However, the Prime Minister agreed to a meeting with the rebel MPs on Monday to hear their concerns about the development of too many wind farms.
Critics of wind turbines claim they are inefficient because the weather dictates when they can produce energy. Local communities also complain that turbines blight their landscape and cause too much noise.
The cost of wind farms is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through energy bills.
A group of academics, politicians and celebrities, including Dr David Bellamy, the environmentalist, and Sian Lloyd, the weather presenter, also wrote to the Prime Minister this week warning that local communities have no chance of fighting “unwanted” on-shore wind farms” under the Government’s planning reforms.
The signatories include Lord Carlile of Berriew, the Government’s independent terrorism adviser, Lord Marlesford of Marlesford, a former Downing Street adviser, several MEPs, five regional chairmen of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and numerous academics.