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TORY MP SEEKS ANSWERS OVER WINDFARM FUNDING

 
  Date : 21.01.06  
        
      
An Opposition MP is putting pressure on the Government over the levels of subsidies it grants windfarm companies.

Geoffrey Cox, the Conservative Member for Torridge and West Devon, has launched a probe into the amount of public money the government is spending subsidising companies that develop windfarms.

Mr Cox has tabled a series of parliamentary questions demanding that the Government should reveal how much it is paying windfarm development companies such as Renewable Energy Systems (RES).

RES has submitted a planning application to build nine 394-foot-high turbines in the Den Brook Valley near North Tawton. The giant turbines would each be twice the height of Nelson's Column.

The site at Den Brook valley is just five kilometres from the edge of Dartmoor National Park.

In a separate application, West Coast Energy last year applied for planning permission to build three turbines near the village of Yelland, less than a mile from the boundaries of the national park.

The application was rejected by West Devon Borough Council, but the developers have since prepared an appeal, which has been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate.

Mr Cox said: "These turbines would dominate the countryside for miles around, permanently altering and industrialising its appearance.

"Wind turbines on this scale are not the green solution that their manufacturers claim.

"Yet the Government continues to subsidise their construction to the tune of many millions of pounds, to the detriment of other emergent technologies which could more effectively fulfil our energy needs."

Mr Cox has asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to reveal how much public money has been granted to companies to build windfarms every year for the past five years.

He is also requesting a breakdown of the figures to reveal how much individual companies have received.

The Department for Trade and Industry will be asked what premiums the Government offers companies running windfarms for the energy they contribute to the national grid which is not available to energy generated through other means.

Jonathan Cardale, the chief executive of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, said he welcomed the move by the MP.

Mr Cardale said: "We consider the subsidies given to windfarms to be over-generous.

"These windfarms are only a viable commercial proposition because they are so heavily subsidised.

"They are distorting the whole economics so each individual company can claim to be providing cheap green electricity when in fact they are being subsidised."

Members of West Devon Borough Council's planning committee visited the site of the proposed Den Brook Valley windfarm on Thursday.