Hayes accused of ‘blowing hot air’ after wind farm attack

Energy Minister John Hayes has attacked onshore wind farms, calling them a "terrible intrusion", and has ordered a new analysis of the case for wind farms and their effect on local communities.

Talking to the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, Hayes claimed the UK is “peppered” by wind farms and that the country had “had enough”. 

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is currently running a consultation on wind farms, but Mr Hayes suggested there will be extra investigations into the impacts of turbines on communities and landscapes.

He said: “We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities. I can’t single-handedly build a new Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land.

“We have issued a call for evidence on wind. That is about cost but also about community buy-in. We need to understand communities’ genuine desires. We will form our policy in the future on the basis of that, not on a bourgeois Left article of faith based on some academic perspective.

“If you look at what has been built, what has consent and what is in the planning system, much of it will not get through and will be rejected. Even if a minority of what’s in the system is built we are going to reach our 2020 target.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change Caroline Flint condemned Hayes’ choice of words, tweeting:

“Messianic tendencies as Energy Minister says ‘I can’t single-handedly build a new Jerusalem…’ Shame we can’t capture Hayes’ hot air 4 grid”

Hayes’ comments came on the same day that a report from RenewableUK revealed that wind energy had enjoyed a record breaking year. The findings revealed that last year saw a surge in capacity, investment and planning approvals for wind farms.

Green Campaigners reacted furiously with Greenpeace Energy campaigner Leila Deen claiming Hayes’ comments could cause divisions within his party and increase investor uncertainty into renewables.

“John Hayes’ petulant outburst adds to the Coalition’s growing energy shambles and to a deepening divide within Government between those who care about green growth and the economy and those who just want more oil and gas.

“Here is a new minister veering off brief and publicly contradicting his bosses. His comments threaten jobs and his approach will drive up energy bills.

“Cameron needs to take charge, decide who’s side he’s on and reassure industry and investors that John Hayes won’t go over their heads and make policy over the phone to the Daily Mail,” she said.

Crowdfunder of renewable energy projects, Abundance Generation’s managing director Bruce Davis suggested that Hayes’ had a personal agenda.

“John Hayes has allowed personal politics to prejudice policy, on the one subject – energy – where evidence and common sense must be the watchwords. His words raise serious questions about his ability to be involved in any sort of enquiry into what is the most scrutinised and debated energy technology in the UK – onshore wind,” he said.

The Telegraph reported earlier this morning that Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey has just banned Hayes from making remarks about the spread of wind farms in the UK.

Conor McGlone

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