Coalition divided over new renewable technologies report
A new rift could be developing as two government departments, led by a Liberal Democrat and Conservative MP respectively, are set to go head-to-head over a forthcoming report into the impact of wind turbines on rural house prices.
The report was commissioned by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) which is headed by the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, a Tory MP.
Figures within the party expect the report to find that wind turbines have a detrimental impact on the value of homes that are located nearby. However, renewable energy trade association RenewableUK has vehemently contested this claim.
Sources inside Westminster have claimed that the report is not welcomed by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which is run by the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, a prominent Liberal Democrat.
It has been suggested that Davey believes the report will encroach upon his remit, though he has publicly refuted this in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, saying: “My department is not blocking a Defra report on the impact of wind farms.”
But Chris Heaton-Harris, the Conservative MP for Daventry told the paper “elements of the DECC are acting like a mafia…trying to stick its dirty great footprints all over another department’s work”. Such emotive language is sure to ramp up tensions between the two coalition partners, who each have diverging views on renewable energy and climate change.
Wind farms have long been a contentious issue and a bugbear for many Conservative MPs, but the UK is legally committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, and there are fears this report will be an obstacle to further implementation of a clean and renewable source of energy in wind power.
The debate comes amidst the context of high-profile opposition to shale gas exploration, with environmental groups warning it will cause the government to renege on its legally binding agreement to combat climate change.