2 Apr 2014

‘Greenest government ever’, or blowing in the wind?

As reports emerge suggesting the Conservatives may remove support for wind farms from their next manifesto, Channel 4 News tracks the ups and downs of their stormy relationship on green issues.

July 2004
Conservative leader Michael Howard says the party would change planning rules so that the government can not overrule local objections to wind farms.
He says the government is relying too heavily on on-shore turbines to meet green energy targets.

January 2006
Next party leader David Cameron and other shadow cabinet members take “lunchtime challenge” to switch household electricity supplies to renewable providers online.
The party leader switched suppliers to a firm sourcing power from a wind farm, then emailed every other member of the party urging them to do the same.

April 2006
David Cameron urges people to “vote blue, go green” in run up to May council elections.

December 2009
Greg Clark, shadow energy secretary, says people should be given more incentives to adopt low-carbon technologies. Residents should be offered “another point of view, that if we were to host [a wind farm], we would have cheaper electricity, a very substantial stream of revenue from business rates, and we might own one or more of the turbines”.

February 2010
Conservative Open Source Planning Green Paper: “We actively support getting more of our energy from renewable sources, including both on-shore and off-shore wind…If we are to be successful in this task it is vital that we develop broad public support for the process.”

Conservative Manifesto 2010
“We will take steps to encourage new low carbon energy production, including…allowing communities that host renewable energy projects like wind farms to keep the additional business rates they generate for six years”.

February 2012
More than 100 Conservative MPs write to the prime minister urging him to cut subsidies for wind turbines.

April 2012
Greg Barker, climate change minister, says of wind farms: “Far from wanting thousands more, actually for most of the wind we need… they are either built, being developed or in planning.”

June 2013
New planning guidance says the need for renewable energy does not automatically override local communities’ planning concerns, but adds that households will get a “generous reduction in their energy bills” if they allow wind farms to be built nearby.

November 2013
David Cameron reported to have ordered aides to “get rid of all this green c***”.

April 2014
suggest David Cameron is considering whether to restrict onshore wind farms for the next Conservative manifesto.

Asked about the claims, and what this meant for schemes for local communities who had been told they would be able to get a reduction in their energy bills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: “Onshore wind is the cheapest form of large-scale renewable electricity and forms an important part of our energy mix – our ambition is to develop up to 13GW by 2020, which would power 7 million homes.”