Davey takes on Osborne over wind farms

Lib Dem Secretary of State launches green initiative, while Chancellor pushes on fossil fuels

Coalition divisions over the future of Britain's energy policy widened last night as it emerged that Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary, is to set out plans to offer communities financial benefits for taking on wind farms in their area.

It is an attempt, says a Whitehall source, to lessen the "hostility" and "negativity" directed at wind turbines from some quarters, including parts of the Conservative Party.

The "call for evidence", to be published in the next few weeks, will detail how local communities could be offered cash to improve school buildings and town halls if a wind farm is built near by.

The plans are a direct challenge to George Osborne, who is pushing for less reliance on green energy and more investment in fossil-fuel generation, including shale gas. And, yesterday, it emerged that Owen Paterson, the new Tory Environment Secretary, has suggested that wind energy will do nothing to stop global warming.

In an interview with the Farmers Guardian, Mr Paterson said: "It is perfectly obvious climate change is there, and there is a human contribution, but I want to be sure the measures we are taking to ameliorate the problem don't create other problems. That is why I am sceptical." He said wind farms, which he has opposed in his own constituency of North Shropshire, were "incredibly unpopular and we proved they were not going to be viable".

The Whitehall source said: "We are not deaf to the controversy around onshore wind. Indeed, we are sensitive to it. We don't want communities to feel that onshore wind is damaging their way of life; rather, that they are playing a vital role in meeting the national need for secure, clean energy. And we certainly don't want hostility to local onshore wind farms to poison a wider debate that is critical to the UK's energy security."

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is examining ways to win support from communities, including grants to carry out one-off improvements to local amenities – for example, new playgrounds for children – and annual funding to support longer-term "legacy" projects, such as energy-efficiency programmes.

The source insisted that community benefits were "not about buying acceptance but can deliver long-lasting improvements to the areas around wind farms".

The call for evidence will ask for ideas about how existing practice can be better shared and standardised across the industry; how to raise awareness among communities about what they can demand in return for hosting a wind farm; and how they can represent their needs effectively.

The plan in England and Wales would follow a model from Scotland, under its Community and Renewable Energy Scheme, in which Community Energy Scotland administers a register that details benefit packages agreed between developers and communities. The money for the projects would be distributed by the owner of the wind farm, who, in turn, would receive government money through subsidies.

This summer, Mr Osborne and Mr Davey clashed over the coalition's energy policy, with the Lib Dem minister fending off an attempt by the Tory Chancellor to slash wind energy subsidies by 25 per cent, instead agreeing to 10 per cent cuts.

But the deal also contained a £500m tax break for offshore drilling for North Sea gas and no commitment for all electricity generation to be green by 2030, something that Mr Davey's department had demanded.

In a related development, it emerged last night that the Chancellor's father-in-law, Lord Howell of Guildford, who has been criticised for his close links to the oil and gas industry, is being paid by the Foreign Office to travel around the world as William Hague's personal adviser on energy.

As David Howell, he served as secretary of state for energy and transport under the Thatcher government.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Jeremy Clarkson
people
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own