Cameron’s U.K. Conservatives Oppose Onshore Wind Farms

Wind turbines at the London Array project, the world's largest consented wind farm, the Thames Estuary, U.K.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party has come out against an expansion of onshore wind power, raising alarm in the renewable-energy industry and drawing criticism from environmental groups.

The party will end “any new public subsidy” for wind-farm operators, according to its manifesto released on Tuesday before the May 7 general election. The Conservatives also favor changing the law so “local people have the final say” on wind-farm applications, it said.

“We will halt the spread of onshore wind farms,” it said. “Onshore wind farms often fail to win public support, however, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires.”

That policy will increase prices for consumers as onshore wind is the cheapest of the alternative-power technologies, Infinis Energy Plc Chairman Ian Marchant said on behalf of the British Wind group of independent generators and suppliers. The industry adds at least 600 million pounds ($879 million) to the U.K. economy each year and is backed by 70 percent of the public, “an approval rating higher than any of the political leaders or parties,” he said.

“Failing to harness the full potential of onshore wind will be bad news for British billpayers, costing hundreds of millions of pounds every year in more expensive alternative technologies,” Marchant said.

‘Higher Bills’

The Tory energy manifesto is “a recipe for higher bills,” the environmental organization Greenpeace said.

Onshore wind “is the cheapest form of low-carbon power,” Greenpeace U.K. chief scientist Doug Parr said. “Stopping it whilst also committing to cutting carbon-emissions only means we’ll have to invest in more expensive sources of clean energy, driving up bills.”

With less than four weeks to go until the vote and polls showing a neck-and-neck race, an electoral victory for the main opposition Labour Party risks “damaging” the U.K. utility industry, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

Labour reiterated a pledge in its manifesto Monday to freeze energy bills until 2017 and force utilities to pass on falling costs to consumers if it wins power.

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