End of onshore subsidies ‘regrettable’ – Ewing
‘Disproportionate impact on Scotland’
The decision taken by the UK Government to end support for the onshore wind sector, provided via the Renewables Obligation, will have a disproportionate impact on Scotland, said Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced this morning their intention to close the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind from April 2016.
Following reports in the media on this issue in recent weeks the Scottish Government made representation to the UK Government through letters and phone calls as well as raising it in the Scottish Parliament. This included the request to ensure there was a sufficiently flexible grace period covering projects already in the planning system. This flexibility would ensure companies and communities were not penalised unfairly by the UK Government policy change where they have already invested.
Mr Ewing said:
“The decision by the UK Government to end the Renewables Obligation next year is deeply regrettable and will have a disproportionate impact on Scotland as around 70 per cent of onshore wind projects in the UK planning system are here.
“This announcement goes further than what had been previously indicated. It is not the scrapping of a ‘new’ subsidy that was promised but a reduction of an existing regime - and one under which companies and communities have already planned investment.
“Onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options, as well the vital contribution it makes towards tackling climate change, which means it should be the last one to be scrapped, curtailed or restricted.
“The UK Government has ignored the concerns of businesses and organisations who are integral to the future energy security of both Scotland and the UK, as well as to environmental organisations who recognise the importance of renewable energy in helping reduce emissions. The UK Government have chosen to place at risk a huge investment pipeline, conceived in good faith by developers based on statements from the UK Government.
“The decision will cause huge uncertainty for investors not just in onshore but across the renewables sector as a whole - especially as there is no information as to other onshore wind schemes under Electricity Market Reform Contracts for Difference or those smaller than 5 MW under the Feed in Tariff.
“Moreover, the decision will prevent onshore schemes proceeding whilst offshore wind will go ahead despite receiving far more generous subsidies. This, the industry claim, will lead to extra costs for consumers of possibly around £2-3 billion.; and must be irrational in that respect.
“Therefore we have warned the UK Government that the decision, which appears irrational, may well be the subject of a Judicial Review.
“The Scottish Government remains ambitious for the renewable energy industry and aims to maximise the vital contribution it makes towards tackling climate change. We will continue to work together with the industry as we continue to support the growth of renewables in Scotland.”