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Wind farm subsidy fears grow

Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd is being asked for reassurance over wind farm subsidy cuts in Scotland.

THE SCOTTISH government is piling pressure on its UK counterpart to speed up consultation on ending subsidies for onshore wind farms north of the border.

On Thusrady Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing wrote to UK energy secretary Amber Rudd demanding clarification on the issue.

His move follows last week’s Queen’s Speech in which the Conservative Westminster government promised to consult with Scotland and the other devolved administrations on their plans to stop subsidising new onshore wind farms.

Ewing said the uncertainty generated by the government’s plans was threatening “a pipeline of planned investment”.

Shetland’s Viking Wind Farm is unlikely to be affected, however any changes could hit the Energy Isles and Beaw Field proposals for Yell and Unst.

In his letter, Ewing wrote: “Any lack of clarity has the potential to stall a very substantial pipeline of investment in the UK and Scotland and dent the UK and Scotland’s reputation with developers and investors.

“We have not received any information from your Department on the possible options you are considering or what analysis has been done to assess the impact on projects in Scotland.

“Given the importance of the renewables sector to Scotland and prior commitments to consult, I would appreciate your reassurance that you will not make any changes to the subsidy arrangements for onshore wind without agreement from Scottish Ministers.”

Ewing also called on Rudd to engage with the renewables industry to reassure them and “retain good faith”.

Another Westminster decision to devolve planning consent for wind farms bigger than 50MW to local authorities will not affect Scotland.

The Viking Wind Farm was given consent by the Scottish government after Shetland Islands Council failed to make an objection despite widespread local opposition.