By DARA BUTTERFIELD
The RenewableUK trade association has claimed the Conservative party’s election manifesto is putting thousands of jobs at risk over its commitment to “halt the spread of onshore wind farms”.
The manifesto states: “Onshore wind now makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix and has been part of the necessary increase in renewable capacity.
“However, onshore windfarms often fail to win public support and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires. As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications.”
A spokesperson for RenewableUK, said: “The Conservatives’ manifesto spectacularly fails to recognise the high level of support among ordinary voters for onshore wind, which stays consistently at two-thirds of the British public. The Tories have also failed to acknowledge the significant contribution that onshore and offshore wind make to the UK’s electricity mix – currently around 10% of the UK’s entire electricity needs, and growing rapidly year on year.
“They’re seriously misinformed in their suggestion that wind power can’t provide firm capacity – the experts at National Grid say there’s no problem in taking maximum advantage of wind whenever it’s available, which can now be predicted with pinpoint accuracy.
“Onshore wind is one of the cheapest of all sources of energy, so by turning their backs on it, the Tories are proposing to deprive voters of one of the most effective means of keeping all our electricity bills down. So when the Tories claim in their manifesto that they intend to cut carbon emissions as cost-effectively as possible they’re being breathtakingly illogical and therefore idiotic.
“They’re also putting at risk 19,000 jobs in the onshore wind industry – which could rise to over 30,000 in the next decade under a supportive government. The onshore wind sector delivered £1.6 billion in investment in the UK last year – that growth would be lost if the Tories had their way and closed down this industry.
“Overall, this is an anti-green growth, anti-clean energy manifesto that will only find favour with the dwindling bunch of fossil fuel advocates who still donate to the Conservative party and thus dictate their energy policy.”
The Conservatives’ manifesto adds: “We have been the greenest government ever, setting up the world’s first Green Investment Bank, signing a deal to build the first new nuclear plant in a generation, trebling renewable energy generation to 19% – bringing in energy efficiency measures to over one million homes and committing £1 billion for carbon capture and storage.
“We are the largest offshore wind market in the world. We will push for a strong global climate deal later this year – one that keeps the goal of limiting global warming to two-degrees firmly in reach. At home, we will continue to support the UK Climate Change Act. We will cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible, and will not support additional distorting and expensive power sector targets.”
The manifesto also reaffirmed the party’s commitment to the development of shale gas and its continued support of the North Sea industry.
If re-elected in May, the Conservatives aim to continue to support the safe development of shale gas, and ensure that local communities share the proceeds through generous community benefit packages. The party will create a Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England, so that the shale gas resources of the North are used to invest in the future of the North.
“We will continue to support development of North Sea oil and gas. We will provide start-up funding for promising new renewable technologies and research, but will only give significant support to those that clearly represent value for money.”