Wind farms good value for money - Energy Secretary
The Energy Minister has defended wind farms as good value for money amid growing calls to slash "green" energy subsidies to slash household bills.
Tory backbenchers are leading a campaign to scale-back an estimated £110 added to energy bills to underwrite unprofitable renewables.
But Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, has defended the hand-outs to developers.
Interviewed on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Davey was asked if onshore wind turbines provide value for money.
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He replied: "Absolutely. They only get paid when they are generating electricity."
Mr Davey defended subsidies for wind farms, saying: "We have to invest in renewable energy to catch up with the rest of Europe."
The growth of wind farms in the Westcountry has prompted criticism from communities fiercely opposed to their impact on the countryside, claiming negative knock-on effects for tourism.
Last week, the Western Morning News reported how George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, wanted wind and solar energy subsidies slashed and for "green" technology to "fight one another" to get financial support.
He made his comments as an adviser to Number 10 on energy and climate change issues before being named a junior minister in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Energy prices have become a major political issue after Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to freeze bills for 20 months if elected in 2015. It would save the typical household £120 between May 2015 and January 2017.
Householders have been warned that they face sharp increases in their heating bills this winter.
Last week, the energy giant, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) announced it was increasing prices for customers by 8.2% – the first in a series of likely bill-hikes by big firms.
The firm's chief executive said one-third of the increase was due to "green subsidies" including loft insulation for the poorest and elderly and renewables.
Mr Davey said only 4% of an energy bill went on low carbon technology – arguing most is spent on "social policies to help the fuel-poor manage their bills". "I don't think we want to get rid of those," he said.
Conservative ministers have drawn up a four-point plan to prevent the growth of wind farms and other forms of renewable energy such as solar power plants from blighting the countryside.
Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said he wants to see "drastic" cuts to subsidies for wind and solar energy. "I think they should be much more economically sustainable," he said. "I think we have belatedly woken up to smell the coffee and we are now seeing how much 'green' subsidies are putting on energy bills which is creating more fuel poverty."