RenewableUK warns of jobs threat over onshore wind cuts19 June 2015

Thousands of British jobs and millions of pounds worth of investment have been left in doubt by the threat of cuts to financial support to onshore wind, according to RenewableUK.

The trade association for the wind industry has warned Government that the security of the UK's future clean energy supplies is also being jeopardised as a result.

The Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that the current financial support mechanism, the Renewables Obligation, will close for onshore wind on 31 March 2016, with limited exemptions. The closure comes earlier than expected. In October, the Department of Energy and Climate said support would continue until the end of March 2017.

RenewableUK's chief executive, Maria McCaffery, said: "The Government's decision to end prematurely financial support for onshore wind sends a chilling signal not just to the renewable energy industry, but to all investors right across the UK's infrastructure sectors.

"It means this Government is quite prepared to pull the rug from under the feet of investors even when this country desperately needs to clean up the way we generate electricity at the lowest possible cost – which is onshore wind. People's fuel bills will increase directly as a result of this Government's actions. If Government was really serious about ending subsidy it should be working with industry to help us bring costs down, not slamming the door on the lowest cost option."

She added: "Ministers are out of step with the public, as two-thirds of people in the UK consistently support onshore wind. Meanwhile the Government is bending over backwards to encourage fracking, even though less than a quarter of the public supports it.

"We are calling for the Energy Secretary to hold immediate talks with the wind industry so that the impact of these cuts can be managed, or at least be reduced. We note that the Government is allowing some flexibility – so-called 'grace periods' - to allow projects where significant investment commitments have already been made in good faith to proceed as planned - but this still means that many much-needed projects will be lost unless the cut-off points for financial support are reviewed and extended."

RenewableUK said 19,000 people owe their livelihoods to the UK's onshore wind industry: "This could have increased to more than 37,000 by 2023 if Government policy had remained supportive."

Ian Vallely

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