The head of Glasgow-based renewable energy company UrbanWind has welcomed a possible climb-down from the Conservative Party over their stance on small-scale wind.
But he also warned that greater clarity was desperately needed, whatever the outcome of Thursday’s election.
Despite the Conservative Party manifesto calling for an end to subsidies for all new onshore wind projects, recent developments appear to indicate that small and medium-scale projects that involve either an individual turbine or a pair may be exempt from this blanket ban, according to sources within the party.
While the Conservative Party declined to further clarify, it appears to be an indication that small scale projects, particularly those that involve a degree of community ownership, are set to be exempt, with the ban focusing on curbing the development of major commercial ‘wind farms’.
Paul McCullagh, Chief Executive, UrbanWind, said: “The Tories’ blanket ban for onshore wind is a draconian, backwards measure that threatened to strangle an industry that must play a key role, as part of a balanced energy policy, if we are to keep the lights on in Britain at the same time as meeting our carbon reduction targets.
“While bans on any onshore developments are unhelpful, these recent revelations appear to show the Conservatives have begun to see sense, at least in the case of small and medium scale developments.
“It is crucial that we properly define the what the term ‘wind farm’ entails and make it clear that not all onshore developments are akin to huge developments of multiple, large-scale turbines.
Many projects, including ours, have a much smaller footprint, usually just a single turbine or a pair, and tarring these with the brush of being a ‘wind farm’ is extremely unhelpful and simply entrenches the position of objectors.
“The numbers associated with onshore wind quite simply speak for themselves. According to a recent survey carried out by DECC, 78% of the British people are in favour of using wind as a primary source of energy generation.
“By 2020 onshore wind will overtake gas as our cheapest form of generation, by which time Renewables UK forecast that the onshore industry will be worth more than £800 million to the British economy. The evidence really is there, onshore wind is one of the most effective, clean and popular methods of generation that we have at our disposal.”