Ministers are believed to be on the verge of a U-turn on their manifesto pledge to halt the spread of subsidised onshore windfarms – on remote Scottish islands, at least. The business secretary, Greg Clark, visited the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles on Monday to discuss the possibility of government support for turbines off the mainland. Iain Maciver, estate manager at Stornoway Trust, said his conversations with Clark had convinced him the minister was preparing to offer financial support for non-mainland windfarms. The minister had “seemed very positive” about the idea of allowing them to compete for subsidies, he said. The business department launched a consultation last November on whether it should make an exemption to its 2015 manifesto commitment to “end any new public subsidy” for windfarms. The Guardian understands the government will decide whether to make a special case for the islands later this month. The Scottish government warned this week that if Westminster ruled out allowing onshore windfarms in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland to compete for subsidies, £2.5bn of investment would be put at risk. The islands are also heavily dependent on expensive diesel imports for power. SSE and EDF are among the companies hoping to build windfarms on the islands. In a letter to Clark earlier this year, they claimed the islands had some of the best conditions in the world due to their high wind speeds.
Guardian 13th April 2017 read more »