After years of educating myself in order to campaign effectively with local people, I remain sceptical of the UK Government's £3 billion a year spend on subsidy to the renewables sector which I consider to have serious inadequacies in meeting our modern, long-term energy needs.
I believe that the Government needs to adopt a common sense and mixed energy policy, tapping into the huge potential of indigenous shale gas, and investing for the long-term in nuclear power.
I have a particular interest however, in the specific and controversial issue of on-shore wind turbines, an issue which countless, concerned residents have raised with me. I believe that onshore wind is, as a source of energy, intermittent, inefficient, inadequate and is blighting the skylines in many parts of rural Northumberland. This is why I have spent the last ten years campaigning against their relentless spread and working with residents to oppose inappropriate applications.
There is mounting evidence to support the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Lawson's assertion that “windpower is about the most stupid way of generating electricity you can imagine, it produces very expensive electricity only when the wind is blowing at the right speed, which is only 25% of the time”.
A recent study published by the Adam Smith Institute and the Scientific Alliance, concluded that wind farms, considering both in-shore and off-shore wind turbines, were “expensive and deeply inefficient.” Their research found that wind farms produced 80 per cent of their potential power output for less than one week annually and they managed 90 per cent output for only 17 hours a year. The accepted industry norm seems to be that on a long term basis they work at around a 20-25% efficiency. No rational person would invest in a car which only worked 1/4 of the time.
As well as being inefficient, the building of these wind turbines have been subsidised by the taxpayer & every family in their electricity bills, putting up their monthly bills. This is an entirely unacceptable situation affecting the poorest the most as they struggle to pay their fuel bills. These policies were set in place by Labour, with Ed Miliband MP, the Energy Secretary at the time, and run under the coalition by Ed Davey MP, a Lib Dem. I just do not understand how Labour and Lib Dem MPs claiming to support the poor should think that this subsidy culture to the investor at the direct expense of the poorest is acceptable.
As well as being expensive and inefficient, further controversial aspects of on-shore wind are the negative visual impact and devastatingly detrimental affect on the Northumberland skyline including in areas of outstanding natural beauty. Anecdotal evidence of the death of rare birds in the blades is starting to emerge which is deeply concerning.
We have made great strides in fighting off large scale onshore turbines thanks to the policy set in place in 2013 by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities. He has given local planning committees leave to properly take into account the views of local people. Where this has not been done, he has been looking again, at developer applications, and determining whether the application should be rejected.
I am committed to supporting David Cameron's pledge, opposed by the Liberal Democrats, to end the public subsidy for on-shore wind turbines. Conservative Ministers have said that we can meet our EU renewable energy obligations without building any more wind turbines in rural locations. I will be ensuring that the manifesto commitment on this is robust.