A key figure in the East of England’s energy industry hit out at ministers last night accusing them of giving conflicting messages about the financial support businesses would get from government.

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Simon Gray, chief executive officer of the regional industry body the East of England Energy Group, fired the broadside after new environment secretary Owen Paterson suggested the subsidies system for wind farms was “Soviet” and should be scrapped.

Mr Paterson told an event at Tory conference in Birmingham: “There are significant impacts on the rural economy and the rural environment, all of which probably weren’t intended when these things were thought up. It is not very green to be blighting the economy in one area.”

It was reported yesterday that Mr Paterson was also planning to write to the Department of Energy setting out his view about ending green subsidies.

He went on: “If you start having subsidies you end up with a Soviet-style system, where politicians make decisions that might actually be better made by the market.”

Meanwhile Tory climate change minister Greg Barker also commented at the conference that the government would deal with what he called the “never-ending gravy train of green subsidies” in order to bring down energy bills.

Yet the two Tory ministers’ words appear to conflict with those of the Liberal Democrat energy secretary Ed Davey, who spoke in support of subsidies just two weeks ago at his party’s conference in Brighton.

After hearing their comments Mr Gray told the EDP: “The key issue here is that of clarity. The industry can respond to any changes in government strategy if it actually has a clear understanding of the policy and associated time frames.

“Ed Davey says that nothing has changed and that the drive to renewables continues unabated, however we have Owen Paterson and Greg Baker saying something quite different.

“The industry needs to know what subsidies and tariffs will apply before investors will consider business plans for the development of renewable energy sources.” Previously the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, a grouping of business and council leaders, has also raised concerns over of a lack of clarity on government subsidies.

Mr Gray continued: “One thing is clear, and that is we will need to get our electricity from somewhere and this is particularly true if industry emerges from recession and requires more energy to grow.

“We are fortunate in this region in that we have gas, offshore wind, nuclear and the potential for carbon capture and storage.”

5 comments

  • V; both the Oil & Gas as well as the nuclear industry receive far higher and lengthier financial incentives than any green technology. So based on your argument one would assume you are against these too? Where do you propose we get our energy from? I'm genuinely interested.

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    norfolkboy15@gmail.com

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

  • The urban centred Greater Peterborough Council will soon put up for consultation their plan to throw tenants of 3,000 acres of farm land at Newborough and Morris Fens so the council can build a huge solar farm to serve the city. This is 3000 acres of Grade One land, drained with no little effort under Vermuyden's plans and producing a huge amount of food a year. I gather the council's figures justifying the plan are extremely shaky and the project is ideology driven. How can an energy plan be green when it removes such a large area of the best land in the country from production at a time when the world is facing food shortages? The plan also ignores the historical and landscape value. I gather that renewable energy companies operate in other European countries without such generous subsidies. Now perhaps they can do it here and we will see a more considered approach. As for Peterborough, I hope a lot of people object and that someone suggests energy saving is more sensible than taking land out of food production-but being a bunch of overspill townies, no doubt they think power for their TVs more important than a full stomach.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

  • There is absolutely nothing green about the coalitions lack of green planning, whether its land use, energy or CO2 reduction targets. Subsidies should aid taxpayers who pay for them, not large international companies. Projects undertaken by communities should get it and companies using this subsidy to offset their dividends to shareholders should not get it, they earn enough profit from the wind and if their investment was designed to live on handouts, then its unsustainable. Why does the Crown estate need taxpayers subsidies? why do Norwegian companies benefit from it?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

  • Why should they get subsidies ?. After all, if the "green energy" windmills etc were any good and profitable they would not require subsidies, leading to rip off charges for the public. I think that Gray has shot himself in the foot this time and just proved to everyone green energy is no good, expensive, and people like him have to grovel to the government to get more subsidies for these companies, through higher bills for the public.

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    "V"

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

  • Good question Norfolkboy15. How about a Wash barrier with a lock system to allow the 150 ship movements per year, for starters. Safeguarding one fifth of our national fresh food supplies, from the Fenland's, from storm surges as well as saving the need for two French nuclear power station by operating a tidal energy system. It would change the salinity of the Wash by a small amount but it would go some way towards what we need. no need to say that one could also operate multiple wind turbines from a purposefully designed wash- dike or barrier.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, October 12, 2012

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