UK Climate Secretary threatened with potential legal challenge over subsidies

Amber Rudd, the UK’s new Energy & Climate Change Secretary, could face legal action if she withdraws subsidies a year early, according to a published report.
UK Climate Secretary threatened with potential legal challenge over subsidies

According to the Guardian newspaper, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will announce later this week that the existing subsidy scheme for onshore wind will be closed down a year earlier than originally intended.

The Conservative Party, having won a second term of office in government, has said it will “end any new public subsidy” as part of its plan to curtail the development of onshore wind farms. However, a lawyer for Eversheds LLP, who is also a member of trade body RenewableUK, wrote in the Guardian yesterday (Monday June 1st 2015) that Ms Rudd has been tasked with the ‘destruction of the industry’ by those with a ‘visceral hatred of the appearance of wind turbines’. Marcus Trinick, QC went on to appeal to Ms Rudd to talk to the industry before she acts. Mr Trinick’s call to the Energy Secretary was supported by a warning from RenewableUK Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith that the industry will launch a legal challenge if necessary.

“The industry will fight against any attempts to bring in drastic and unfair changes utilising the full range of options open, including legal means if appropriate” said Mr Smith.

However, although the government has said there will be no more new subsidies for onshore wind farms it is still looking at the options to deliver that commitment. According to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) no details have been released as yet and so it is premature to talk about retrospective changes at this stage.

"We promised people clean, affordable and secure energy supplies and that's what I'm going to deliver. We'll focus support on renewables when they're starting up - getting a good deal for billpayers is the top priority" Ms Rudd said.

The government will be implementing its manifesto commitment to give local communities the final say on wind farms and will be publishing its plans on the Renewables Obligation (RO) and Feed-in Tariff shortly.  It expects to see the costs of renewables fall significantly beyond 2020, particularly given the fall in costs for solar and the progress being made on this issue by the offshore wind sector. Projects already in receipt of planning permission should be capable of delivering enough onshore wind to contribute what's needed to reach a level of 30 percent electricity from renewables by 2020 as set out in the Coalition Government's renewable roadmap.

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Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC)

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