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Coalition split over new wind farms
Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey has insisted the Government was not closing the door on new onshore wind farms in a public rebuke to his Conservative deputy.
Coalition tensions over energy policy erupted after Tory energy minister John Hayes appeared to announce there would be no further expansion of onshore wind developments, saying "enough is enough".
He was slapped down by Mr Davey, who said there had been "no change" to Government policy. He said: "Onshore wind is one of the cheapest renewables, which is why we've been able to cut the subsidy. It has an important role to play in our energy future."
Mr Hayes, whose comments will delight many Tory backbenchers opposed to onshore wind farms, was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a Tory deputy to Mr Davey in last month's reshuffle.
Mr Davey was reportedly so concerned about his views on the issue that he acted to limit his responsibilities.
Mr Hayes said wind farms could no longer be "imposed on communities". He said: "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."
He insisted only a minority of proposed wind turbines were needed to meet green targets set by the Government.
"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. I'm saying enough is enough."
It is understood that the remarks were contained in a draft of a speech Mr Hayes had intended to give on Tuesday night. After Mr Davey's office saw the draft, however, Mr Hayes was told it was not acceptable and he should not give it. The content then appears to have ended up with the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.