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Guy Opperman urges clarification of windfarm strategy

HEXHAM Tory MP Guy Opperman last night called on Northumberland County Council to produce a wind farm policy that will firmly clarify its future strategy.

wind farm, Wind Turbines
wind farm, Wind Turbines

HEXHAM Tory MP Guy Opperman last night called on Northumberland County Council to produce a wind farm policy that will firmly clarify its future strategy.

Mr Opperman said the wind farm issue is dividing communities and needs to be closely looked at on both a national and local basis.

As 101 Tory MPs wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron to demand cuts in the £400m-a-year subsidies paid to the “inefficient” onshore wind turbine industry, Mr Opperman placed his focus on a dual level.

He told The Journal yesterday : “I urge Northumberland County Council to come up with their plan for the local area so that all parties know its strategy.”

Mr Opperman, who was not a signatory to the letter to the Prime Minister, added: “I welcome any review of the wind farm situation so that we can get onshore wind farms on a more sustainable and community-oriented basis.

“It is patently clear that they are dividing communities at the moment, but we await two key issues.

“One is the development of the new energy policy under the new minister, Ed Davey.

“The other is the outcome of the consultation over the planning reform.”

The backbenchers who have written to Mr Cameron say they want wind farm subsidies “dramatically cut”.

Around 4,500 wind turbines nationally are expected to be built as the Government pursues its own green agenda.

Guy Opperman
Guy Opperman

Northumberland has been heavily loaded with applications, some of which have been rejected, and several planning battles are currently being fought.

One application recently fended off concerned Kirkharle in mid-Northumberland, where former Northumberland county councillor Neil Carmichael, now the Conservative MP for Stroud, Gloucestershire, owns land at Bavington Hill Head Farm.

He drew accusations of hypocrisy for encouraging wind farm development in Northumberland while opposing similar applications in his constituency when running his election campaign.

Mr Carmichael’s name was not among the 101 Tory signatories on the letter to the Prime Minister.

The letter to 10 Downing Street, organised by Tory backbencher Chris Heaton-Harris, reads: “In these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines. We are also worried that the new National Policy Planning Framework, in its current form, diminishes the chances of local people defeating onshore windfarm proposals through the planning system.”

Latest figures from Ofgem, the energy regulator, show that £1.1bn was paid in taxpayer subsidies to renewable energy producers in 2009-10. Of that, £522m was for wind power.



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