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Davey warns on wind power subsidy cuts

With Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, representing Britain at the Rio environmental summit this week, Mr Davey is fighting to maintain the government's green credentials in the face of determined Conservative lobbying against onshore wind farms.

Ed Davey, energy secretary, has warned Conservative colleagues not to play "fast and loose" with investors in onshore wind farms, as a cabinet row looms over subsidy levels.

Downing Street is putting pressure on the Liberal Democrat minister to scale back subsidies, amid calls from more than 100 Tory MPs to reduce support for wind farms, which they say produce expensive power and ruin the countryside.

Mr Davey, in a Financial Times interview, said if politics prevailed over evidence it would send a damaging message to international investors in the energy market, removing the predictability they seek.

The row over wind subsidies will add to coalition strains before the summer break, as Tory MPs - furious that the Lib Dems did not support Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary, in a Commons vote last week - plot over how to derail House of Lords reform.

Mr Davey, an avowed environmentalist, sees onshore wind power as an essential part of Britain's energy mix, alongside other more controversial sources including shale gas, obtained by the process known as "fracking".

The energy secretary is expected to authorise the go-ahead for shale gas development in this country within weeks... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Ed Davey, energy secretary, has warned Conservative colleagues not to play "fast and loose" with investors in onshore wind farms, as a cabinet row looms over subsidy levels.

Downing Street is putting pressure on the Liberal Democrat minister to scale back subsidies, amid calls from more than 100 Tory MPs to reduce support for wind farms, which they say produce expensive power and ruin the countryside.
 
Mr Davey, in a Financial Times interview, said if politics prevailed over evidence it would send a damaging message to international investors in the energy market, removing the predictability they seek.

The row over wind subsidies will add to coalition strains before the summer break, as Tory MPs - furious that the Lib Dems did not support Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary, in a Commons vote last week - plot over how to derail House of Lords reform.

Mr Davey, an avowed environmentalist, sees onshore wind power as an essential part of Britain's energy mix, alongside other more controversial sources including shale gas, obtained by the process known as "fracking".

The energy secretary is expected to authorise the go-ahead for shale gas development in this country within weeks under a "tight regulatory regime". But he predicted that shale would not meet more than a small fraction of Britain's future energy needs.

With Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, representing Britain at the Rio environmental summit this week, Mr Davey is fighting to maintain the government's green credentials in the face of determined Conservative lobbying against onshore wind farms.

Decc, the energy department, plans to cut the subsidy 10 per cent between 2013-17. Mr Davey is reluctant to bow to Downing Street's desire for bigger cuts as that could jeopardise investment by energy companies.

"If you were to make the mistake of increasing the political risk premium of investing in the UK by playing fast and loose like this there will be a very heavy price," he warned.

Mr Davey was said to be "irritated" by suggestions from Oliver Letwin, one of David Cameron's chief policy advisers, that the subsidy could be removed altogether by 2020, an aspiration he believes is probably unrealistic.

With a decision on the subsidy levels due imminently, some of the country's biggest energy companies publicly warned last week of an "investment hiatus" amid fears that the UK might move away from what Keith Anderson, head of ScottishPower, called independent "evidence-based" policy making.

Mr Davey, in one of his first extended interviews since taking office, insisted "we're going where the evidence takes us".

The issue does not just divide Lib Dems and Tories. William Hague, foreign secretary, wrote to Mr Cameron warning that foreign investment into Britain's energy market was being undermined by negative rhetoric on green power by some ministers. George Osborne, chancellor, is among those to strike a harder tone.

Mr Davey said Britain could theoretically keep the lights on and hit its carbon targets without a new generation of nuclear power stations but he wanted to see nuclear as part of the mix.


Source: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/...

JUN 18 2012
https://www.windaction.org/posts/34099-davey-warns-on-wind-power-subsidy-cuts
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