Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

PM signals onshore wind farm debate

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted the Government's renewable energy policy had not changed

David Cameron has signalled a "debate" over the future expansion of onshore wind farms after one of his ministers infuriated Liberal Democrats by suggesting there was no need for further developments.

Conservative energy minister John Hayes earned a public rebuke from his boss, Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey, by declaring "enough is enough" and that turbine schemes should no longer be "imposed on communities".

The clash came after Mr Hayes was told by the Energy Secretary that his views were not compatible with Government policy and should be removed from a speech he was making on Tuesday night.

Instead Mr Hayes made his remarks in an interview with the Daily Mail, criticising the way wind farms had been "peppered" around the country and saying there were plenty already in the pipeline to meet the Government's 2020 green energy targets.

"Even if a minority of what's in the system is built we are going to reach our 2020 target. I'm saying enough is enough," he said.

The Prime Minister told MPs there had been "no change" in the Government's policy on renewable energy but indicated that "what happens" after the 2020 targets were met still needed to be thrashed out.

"Let me explain exactly - we have got a big pipeline of onshore and offshore wind projects that are coming through," Mr Cameron said at Prime Minister's Questions.

"We are committed to those, but frankly all parties are going to have to have a debate in this House and outside this House about what happens once those targets are met."

It is the second time in a fortnight that energy policy has been thrown into confusion with different ministers taking different lines.

Earlier this month, Mr Cameron caught energy ministers on the hop by announcing that gas and electricity firms would be forced in law to put customers on the cheapest tariff - a move that Mr Davey appeared to know nothing about.

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