Further to media reports that the UK Department of Energy (DECC) is set to make an announcement shortly, Ewing said that the Scottish Government maintained its opposition to early closure of support for onshore wind power, provided through the Renewables Obligation.
He highlighted the Scottish Government’s opposition was because of the impact on consumers, communities and business.
Ewing also said that were such a policy to go ahead it was essential that there was a sufficiently flexible grace period covering projects already in the planning system. This flexibility would ensure companies and communities are not penalised unfairly by the UK Government policy change where they have already invested. Not to do so would result in companies and communities losing substantial investment.
He told MPs on Holyrood’s Energy and Enterprise Committee, “We are aware of the UK Government’s apparent intention to remove or reduce subsidies. In 2013, only two years ago, there was a UK Government review of the appropriate level of support for onshore wind and concluded a reduction in support.
“Those were the rules set by the UK Government and which investment decisions were made on. If you now bring forward an early closure of the Renewable Obligation a huge amount of sunk investment will not go ahead.
“We don’t believe an early closure of the Renewable Obligation is a sensible decision and will expose the UK Government and hence the taxpayer to the risk of Judicial Review.
“However if such a decision goes ahead it must be ameliorated by a grace period covering all projects currently in planning.”
Ewing highlighted costs to consumers if the support is removed and quoted analysis by Scottish Power which estimated the additional costs as between £2 billion and £3 billion He also highlighted the impact on communities who are involved in wind farm projects and also would risk loss of investment.