Pressure on ending windfarm subsidies as North East peers come together for House of Lords debate

Viscount Ridley hopes the discussion will prompt the Government into ensuring Northumberland’s landscape is better protected

Viscount Ridley
Viscount Ridley

The Government will face pressure on ending attractive windfarm subsidies as North East peers come together for a House of Lords debate.

The discussion on Northumberland’s contribution to the wind energy sector will be held on Wednesday in the Lords and has been time-tabled by former Tyneside MP Baroness Joyce Quin.

The peer was instrumental in the cross-party campaign against a turbine being built close to Duddo Stone Circle near Berwick earlier this year.

Joining her in speaking at the debate is climate change sceptic Viscount Ridley, of Blagdon Hall, a journalist and science author who hopes the discussion will prompt the Government into ensuring Northumberland’s landscape is better protected.

The former science editor for the Economist, said: “I hope the Government will go further than it has already gone in trying to make it clear that we already have enough wind power in Northumberland and make it clear through the planning system that we should be winding down this subsidy programme so that it doesn’t attract more applications for wind farms.

“The emissions savings are too small to be worth it and per kilowatt hour, wind power is not displacing CO2 emissions and they require CO2 in their construction, manufacture and maintenance.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to discuss the issue of wind power in Northumberland and hold the Government to account, which is our job in the Lords.”

Also speaking will be Bishop of Newcastle and peer Martin Wharton, businessman Baron Vinson of Roddam Dene, in Northumberland, and Lord Walton of Detchant.

Baroness Verma, a junior Government minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, will also be attending and Viscount Ridley hopes that she takes a strong message from Northumberland back to the heart of Government that the region should not be expected to host any further developments.

“With any luck we will be able to press the minister in the Lords, Lady Verma, to take back to the department that there is strong feeling in Northumberland that we have done more than our share in hosting this rather destructive trend, which isn’t helping our energy security very much, but is spoiling our unique and treasured landscape,” said the Conservative member.

“Northumberland has more wind-power capacity installed than 16 counties put together in the South East of England.

“Northumberland’s energy demand is much less than other counties by a huge margin.”

Many of his views on the economic impact of wind farms to the UK’s energy supply have been influenced by the academic research undertaken by Dr Gordon Hughes, professor of economics at the University of Edinburgh.

Viscount Ridley said Prof Hughes’s analysis of the cost benefit of wind energy had shown emissions savings are not significant.

He said anaerobic digesters, of the type seen at Howden in North Tyneside, would be more appropriate in Northumberland.

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