Energy Bill Negotiations Deadlocked
Last week, David Cameron chaired a meeting of the Quad — the coalition’s decision-making body — at which senior ministers attempted, and failed, to agree the precise content of the Energy Bill. According to a report in The Times, it could result in a cap on new onshore wind farm developments.
Columnist Rachel Sylvester yesterday reported that a “possible compromise” between Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and Chancellor George Osborne was on the cards, which could see the Lib Dem agree to a limit on the expansion of onshore wind farms in return for a “wider Treasury commitment on funding” for low carbon energy projects.
It remains unclear whether any deal would result in the Treasury approving plans to create a government-backed company to guarantee financial support for low carbon projects and include a flexible decarbonisation target for the power sector in the final version of the bill.
However, BusinessGreen understands a cap on new onshore wind farms has been discussed in return for Osborne’s support for a package of measures in the bill that he had previously opposed, including the crucial decarbonisation target for 2030.
The Times reported that Davey regards restrictions on onshore wind as “a price worth paying for a deal, as his priority is offshore wind”.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said reports of a cap on onshore wind farms was “pure speculation”.
“We can’t provide a running commentary on discussions that take place within government,” she added. “Government is committed to encouraging investment in a balanced energy mix.”
Any deal involving a cap on onshore wind energy would be seen as a partial victory for those Conservative MPs who have been leading a vocal campaign against onshore wind farm developments on aesthetic and cost grounds. It could also bring to an end months of policy uncertainty and result in billions of pounds of planned low carbon investment being released.