Clegg to deliver stormy rebuff to Tories who demand wind farm cuts
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 06 February 2012
Nick Clegg will today rebuff more than 100 Conservative MPs by declaring the Government will reject their demands to cut subsidies for onshore wind farms.
Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Secretary, will also make clear he is a firm supporter of "green energy" and will not bow to Tory pressure. The demand, in a letter to David Cameron, is seen as a test of Mr Davey's environmental credentials after he succeeded Chris Huhne, who quit on Friday. In a joint appearance today, Mr Clegg and Mr Davey will seek to reassure green groups that Mr Huhne's departure will not dilute the Coalition's commitment to their cause. Visiting a test site for green homes in Watford, the Deputy Prime Minister will say: "The choice for the UK is simple: wake up, or end up playing catch up. In today's world the savviest states understand that going for growth means going green. Low-carbon markets are the next frontier in the battle for global pre-eminence.
Mr Davey will say: "There may have been a change at the helm, but there'll be no change in direction or ambition." He will add: "I have long believed in the need to marry our economic and environmental agendas. Greening the economy isn't just good for the planet – it's good for the wallets, purses and pockets... My priorities are very simple: green jobs, green growth and getting the best deal for energy bill payers."
Tory MPs want a "dramatic cut" in the £400m a year subsidy to an "inefficient" onshore wind turbine industry. They want planning laws changed so local people have more chance of stopping new wind farms. Mr Cameron is unlikely to back them, not least because subsidies have already been cut.
Chris Heaton-Harris, the Tory MP who organised the letter, said many more MPs would have signed it had they been allowed to – suggesting significant support among ministers and their aides. Two Liberal Democrats, two Labour members and one Democratic Unionist also backed it, he said.
A Conservative MP said: "In the on-going review of renewable energy subsidies, we ask the Government to dramatically cut the subsidy for on-shore wind and spread the savings made between other types of reliable renewable energy production and energy efficiency measures."
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