MPs tell Minister to unblock onshore wind as report shows consumers benefit
16 July 2019
Posted by: Rob Norris
Six Members of Parliament have asked a series of trenchant questions in the House of Commons about why the government is failing to maximise the use of onshore wind, as it is the cheapest way to generate new power for consumers.
Onshore wind is currently excluded from competing for Government-backed contracts to generate power.
In May, the Government’s advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, suggested that the UK’s onshore wind capacity could be increased from 13 gigawatts (GW) now to 35GW by 2035 as part of a low-cost energy strategy to reach net zero emissions. Research by independent analysts Vivid Economics shows that if these new onshore wind projects were allowed to go ahead, bill payers would save £50 per year, and thousands of jobs would be created.
In their new report, “Quantifying the economic benefits of onshore wind to the UK”, published in full for the first time today, Vivid Economics show that building this onshore wind instead of gas plants would save an average household £50 a year in 2035 and reduce the cost of electricity by 7%. It would also support 31,000 jobs by 2035, with 14,000 directly employed in the industry (up from 5,300 direct jobs now).
During today’s session of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions for the Interim Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Chris Skidmore MP, was pressed on the Government’s onshore policy by a cross-party group of MPs, including BEIS Committee Chair Rachel Reeves MP, and opposition energy spokespeople Alan Brown MP and Alan Whitehead MP.
Shadow Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Alan Whitehead MP said, “Does the Minister agree that the policy of banning onshore wind in England, through planning restrictions, and in the UK as a whole, through discrimination in support, is now completely indefensible?”
SNP Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson, Drew Hendry MP, said, “The Tories are failing consumers by blocking onshore wind from competing for government-backed contracts – costing Scotland thousands of jobs and hitting household bills.”
“It’s high time the UK government started supporting our onshore wind sector to boost the green economy, and deliver a cheaper and climate-change friendly alternative to generate power - reducing total electricity costs and saving households money at a time of rising living costs.”
RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Emma Pinchbeck said: “As the Government has set a legally binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050, it needs to use the cheapest technology to get there, which is onshore wind. Onshore wind is popular, as are lower electricity bills and skilled jobs it creates. So now is the moment for Government to take account of what MPs are saying and take a fresh look at this key technology”.
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More on Vivid Economics is available here - their research is available here.