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Scotland in a huff over wind energy subsidies

British government favoring offshore wind, suggesting end to support for inland operations.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Scotland in a huff over wind energy subsidies
Scotland wants to British representatives to explain moves to lessen the government support for onshore wind energy developments. UPI/Pat Benic | License Photo

LONDON, June 24 (UPI) -- The Scottish government said it wants the British energy secretary to come to its capital to explain the reasons behind a cut in wind energy subsidies.

"The Scottish government has been clear that onshore wind should be able to compete with other technologies," Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement Wednesday.

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London announced plans to end public subsidies for new onshore wind farms starting in April 2016. Last year, the $1.2 billion in government support helped onshore wind power generate 5 percent of total British electricity and bring the region closer to its climate change goals, the British government said.

The Scottish government countered that London's proposal was stacked against it as nearly 70 percent of the installed onshore wind power is in Scottish territory.

Scotland has one of the more ambitious low-carbon agendas in the world and Ewing said he was summoning his British counterpart, Amber Rudd, to Edinburgh to explain London's decision.

"I have asked U.K. government to provide clarity on this issue which is causing anxiety to the industry," he said.

Rudd in a separate statement defended policies for wind energy, but said subsidies can't last forever. Nevertheless, offshore wind, more than onshore, was described by the British secretary as "an essential part of our plans for delivering energy security" and ushering in a low-carbon economy.

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Scotland's failed 2014 bid for independence from the United Kingdom hinged on powering the nation with renewables while deriving funding from revenue generated from offshore oil and natural gas.

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