Grant Shapps attacks new onshore wind turbines as ‘eyesore on the hills’, exposing cabinet split

Transport secretary fights expansion of renewable technology because of ‘problems of noise as well’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 03 April 2022 11:29 BST
Grant Shapps Attacks New Onshore Wind Turbines As ‘Eyesore On The Hills’

Onshore wind turbines are “an eyesore” and the current effective block on their construction should be kept in place, a cabinet minister says.

Grant Shapps came out against “a big expansion” of the renewable technology – exposing government splits ahead of a long-delayed “energy independence plan”.

“They sit on the hills and can create something of an eyesore for communities,” the transport secretary said, adding there are “problems of noise as well”.

The energy strategy – due to be finally unveiled this week – should “largely” reject onshore wind for those “reasons of environmental protection”, Mr Shapps told Sky News.

Instead, the plans should focus on reviving nuclear power and expanding offshore wind, he argued, adding: “Britain’s got more offshore wind power than any other country in the world.”

The call comes as Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, pushes to double onshore wind turbine power by 2030, as part of the drive to wean the UK off Russian gas, following the Ukraine invasion.

In a newspaper interview, Mr Kwarteng said he would not mind living next to a turbine, explaining: “I don’t have a huge antipathy to them.”

But Mr Shapps suggested Boris Johnson is on his side of the clash, adding: “I think you will find our opinions are very closely aligned on this.”

Asked if he was opposing the relaxation of planning laws – the route to building more wind farms – Mr Shapps argued “the way to go with this is largely, not entirely, but largely off-sea”.

“I don’t think you want a huge expansion of onshore wind. There may be cases where it makes sense, but I think. by and large, we’ve established that offshore works very well.” he said.

Cabinet rows over whether to relax planning rules to lift the block on onshore wind turbines have helped delay the new energy strategy – promised one month ago.

The prime minister is also pushing to get 25 per cent of the UK’s electricity from nuclear power – requiring up to six new power stations – at a cost that is alarming Rishi Sunak, the chancellor.

Meanwhile, Labour is urging the government to prepare to ration oil and gas as the Ukraine war deepens the energy crisis, accusing ministers of “complacency”.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are among European countries considering restrictions on supplies, because of their heavy dependence on Russian energy.

Asked if the UK should “do the same”, Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary replied: “We should be making those plans”.

He told the BBC: “The government should be preparing, not necessarily in public, for that situation. There’s a lot of complacency in this country about the relative lower exposure to Russian gas that we have.

But Mr Shapps quickly insisted rationing will not be needed, saying: “ It’s not the route that we want to go down.”

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