The cracks in the UK coalition government’s energy policy became apparent again yesterday when Minister for Energy, John Hayes was quoted in two newspapers, making remarks to the effect that he planned to limit the development of wind farms in the country.
Mr Hayes told the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail papers that wind turbines have “peppered” the UK’s countryside and that “enough is enough”.
He has ordered a review of evidence on the cost of wind energy systems and their effects on the surrounding environment. “We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities,” he said.
“I can’t single-handedly build a new Jerusalem, but I can protect our green and pleasant land… We will form our policy in the future on the basis of that, not on a bourgeois Left article of faith based on some academic perspective.”
The Conservative minister had planned to use the comments in a speech scheduled for Tuesday but was instructed to remove them by Energy Secretary Ed Davey.
There has been alarm in renewable generation circles at the comments.
Bruce Davis, cofounder and MD of AbundanceGeneration.com, the UK’s first FSA regulated crowd funder of renewable energy projects, told Power Engineering International, “John Hayes has allowed personal politics to prejudice policy, on the one subject – energy – where evidence and common sense must be the watchwords.
“His words raise serious questions about his ability to be involved in any sort of enquiry into what is the most scrutinised and debated energy technology in the UK – onshore wind.”
“Now is the time to create the ‘Energy Policy Committee’ – to treat energy the way we treat money and interest rates and hand over decision making to an independent body of experts who are accountable to Parliament for their targets, transparent in the minutes of their discussions and managed for the long term health of the economy – and not allow short term backbench politics to undermine and even prejudice considered ministerial policy development. The stakes are just too high.”
A source at the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed to the Guardian newspaper that the minister was instructed to remove them by Davey if he wanted to deliver a speech.
The source warned: “What he planned to say was not government policy; will not be government policy. It might be what the Tory party would like to be energy policy, but it is not. He is not in charge of renewable policies on his own, he has to follow the coalition agreement which is in favour of renewable energy, and meeting our legal EU targets for 2020.
“He has been very silly to give interviews to the Telegraph and the Mail on a speech he was not allowed to deliver.
The Liberal Democrats had been concerned about Hayes’ appointment and Mr Davey had acted to take control of renewable strategy from him at the time, leaving Hayes with a reduced responsibility for delivery.
Davey and Hayes are expected to meet this morning to discuss the situation and try to come to an agreement over the forthcoming energy bill.
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