Northumberland will be given the power to fight new wind turbine developments if the Conservatives form the next Government, the party has revealed.
The General Election promise, opposed by the Liberal Democrats, would see no more public subsidy for onshore wind turbines after ministers said the UK could meet its EU renewable energy obligations without building any more wind farms in rural locations.
The news was welcomed by Berwick Conservative parliamentary candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who said it comes after widespread calls for such a move across the UK.
She said: “For the whole of Northumberland and Berwick in particular this will be very welcome news. We have struggled to fight these applications, with some noticeable but all too rare victories against these giant wind factories.
“Now, thanks to the Prime Minister, we will be in a position to say how inappropriate these turbines are for Northumberland.
“If an energy proposal is genuinely economically viable then the local population will be able to have the final say, and that is something we have wanted for a long time.”
But Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said the Tories were plucking a cut-off point out of the air for political reasons.
The Liberal Democrat said: “The time to cut the subsidy on on-shore wind farms should not be an arbitrary political date but should be when we are satisfied that onshore wind turbines are making a sufficient contribution to our renewable energy needs, and my view is that we are getting close to that time with the approvals already given.
“I am in favour of what the Coalition has already done both in reducing the subsidy and in strengthening the local communities’ powers in the planning, but it is misleading to suggest that the central Government involvement could be removed completely because all planning applications of any kind are open to appeal.”
Existing wind farms and those already with planning permission would be protected from the change but Energy Minister Michael Fallon said these would be enough to meet 2020 targets set by the EU - meaning any further developments should not be subsidised.
Instead, the money will be used to back other renewable technologies as part of a mix of energy supplies.
Changes to planning rules will also give communities more power to reject on-shore wind projects not already in place or planned when the policy comes into force.
Mr Fallon said: “Making sure that we have a good mixture of reliable energy is an important part of our long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain.
“We remain committed to cutting our carbon emissions. And renewable energy, including on-shore wind, has a key role in our future energy supply.
“But we now have enough bill payer-funded on-shore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more.
“That’s why the next Conservative Government will end any additional bill payer subsidy for on-shore wind, and give local councils the decisive say on any new wind farms.”