Ahead of the debate, Energy Minister Charles Hendry has set out his vision on how to engage with communities on the issue.

Many communities have opposed of the building of wind farms in their vicinity for reasons ranging from the visual impact, noise and flickering of the blades.

This is set against a background of climate change scepticism amongst the public. The minister quoted the findings of a recent Ipsos Mori/University of Cardiff survey which found that one third of Britons think the science on climate change has been exaggerated. This he said, presents policy makers with a significant challenge.

Wind power, he says has considerable cost advantages as the resource itself is free , protection consumers against the volatile and increasing cost of fossil fuels. It is also independent of the security supply issues that affect imported fuel such as coal and gas.

He said: “Wind power should continue to be part of our energy portfolio.

“No-one suggests that wind is the whole solution, but alongside nuclear, clean coal and gas it should continue to be part of the solution to the massive energy security and low carbon challenges we face as a nation.

“However, to do so, it needs more democratic legitimacy than it has today and it is our intention to ensure that happens.”

He said a full review of the funding mechanism will ensure that subsidies will not make it attractive to put wind farms in unsuitable locations. The review should also reflect the reductions in costs in consumers’ bills.

The Localism Bill he said would ensure that communities have a say in how wind projects should develop and that communities should see direct financial benefits through greater ownership of wind farms.

He said: “The Government believes wind power has an important contribution to make both to our energy security and to our low carbon goals, but it should not be imposed on unwilling communities outside of a full and proper democratic process.

“These changes will address the democratic deficit in wind power.”

Alison Brown

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