Conservative opposition to onshore wind farms risks undermining the creation of British jobs, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey warned back in 2014.
Research by RenewableUK shows that in 2014, 15,400 people were employed in Britain’s wind power industry, an increase of 70 per cent since 2010. Between then and 2021 that number had doubled again to 32,000.
The wind turbine industry attracted £2.6bn of investment just in the one year 2013/2014.
Commenting on the new data, Ed Davey warned that the Conservative party’s opposition to onshore wind farms was undermining the creation of British jobs.
Ed said: “We have had a major leap forward in recent years and there is a really good story to tell.
“But I want to be clear I am having a go at the Conservative Party here. It has made it clear onshore wind is something they don’t want to see in the future expansion of low-carbon energy and I think that is undermining investment now and undermining jobs in the future.”
Liberal Democrats in government kept the environment on the agenda, despite opposition from the Conservatives.
By the end of Ed Davey’s term of office the UK already doubled the amount of energy generated by off-shore wind farms and Britain is on track to meet its renewable electricity targets for 2023.
However this is now faltering badly as off-shore wind is becoming more difficult and more expensive. The industry was recently badly shocked when at the auction for new UK off-shore wind energy production no bids were placed because of the low price the UK government was willing to pay for the electricity.
On-shore wind energy is one of the cheapest ways to generate electricity but the government’s 10 year block via the planning system has meant hardly any new capacity in that time and with off-shore wind in UK waters now considered uneconomic our electricity producers are staring at an approaching crisis.
Recent talk of a relaxation of the ban on on-shore wind have turned out disappointing – the promised easing of restrictions sounded good when first announced, but on close examination it turned out development remains unlikely because of the ease by which a small number of objectors can block proposals and the difficulty for proposers to demonstrate “sufficient local support”.