Tory minister declares war on 'bourgeois Left' wind farms
'I can't build a new Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land,' says John Hayes
TORY energy minister John Hayes has signalled plans to halt the growth of wind farms, in a move that could further damage relations with the Lib Dems, who support renewable energy.
Announcing his intentions in an interview with The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Hayes lamented the fact that onshore wind farms are "peppering" the countryside and said that they would no longer be "imposed" on communities.
"I can't single-handedly build a new Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land," he said, and insisted that "enough is enough".
He revealed that only a minority of the onshore wind turbines currently awaiting planning permission would now be built, but claimed that the government's green targets for 2020 would still be met.
Hayes believes anger over onshore wind farms is "skewing the whole debate" about other types of renewable energies, and said policy towards turbines could no longer be governed by "a bourgeois Left article of faith".
"It seems extraordinary to have allowed them to be peppered around the country without due regard for the interests of the local community or their wishes," he said.
"The relentless march of onshore wind farms is at an end," announced the Mail, which said Hayes would investigate whether onshore turbines "drive down house prices" and that he had "asked scientists to examine noise complaints and more sinister suggestions that the turbines endanger military aircraft by blocking radar signals".
The move "will delight 100-plus fellow Tory MPs who have urged David Cameron to take a more sceptical approach to onshore wind power," added the paper.
But Hayes’s comments "risk creating a row with his coalition partners, who are in favour of wind farms," noted The Times. "Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, fought a bitter battle to protect wind farm subsidies from Treasury cuts in July."
The Telegraph revealed that Davey has already tried to strip Hayes of part of his brief, and the BBC pointed out that Hayes was on the record as saying "he did not like onshore wind turbines" before he took the role last month.
Even some Conservatives have reacted with dismay. Zac Goldsmith told the Telegraph that the "Tory retreat on climate change is senseless".
"It is not clear whether Mr Hayes’s repositioning on wind farms was sanctioned by Downing Street or the Treasury," said the paper. "George Osborne, the Chancellor, is understood to be increasingly sceptical about green energy sources."
Hayes's intervention comes as wind farms boom. "Approvals for onshore wind farms have surged to record levels," said the FT. "Despite opposition from critics who claim they are inefficient and blight some of the nation's best-loved views."