The UK has a new energy secretary after Andrea Leadsom was appointed by incoming UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, putting a high-profile critic of onshore wind in charge of national policy.
Leadsom will lead Britain’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under a mass clear-out by Johnson at the top of the UK government that included her predecessor, Greg Clark. Her main qualification for the job may have been her status as a loyal ‘Brexiteer’ like others in the governing Conservative Party promoted under Johnson – and unlike the pro-EU Clark.
Leadsom is familiar to the UK sector after completing a stint as energy minister in 2015 and 2016, when she helped steer through legislation taking onshore wind out of the national support mechanism, and championed the role of fracking-based gas extraction.
She has previously claimed turbines are inefficient and have an unacceptable impact in local communities.
In 2011 Leadsom wrote in a highly-critical article for the Conservative Home think-tank: “Whilst I accept that onshore wind has its part to play in generating renewable energy, I conclude that the benefits of onshore wind have been hugely exaggerated by the developers who stand to make huge sums from the taxpayer incentives.”
She added: “It used to be the case that criticising onshore wind energy led to being denounced as a ‘climate change denier’. I sincerely hope those days are over …”