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Scottish energy minister blasts end to onshore wind subsidies as ‘anti-business’

Wharrels Hill Wind Farm
Wharrels Hill Wind Farm • Photograph: Adrian King

The government’s decision to end onshore wind subsidies a year early has been slammed as “anti-business” by Fergus Ewing, Scottish energy minister.

Speaking after an onshore wind summit in Glasgow yesterday, Ewing criticised the end of the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme, which was announced last month and warned it could increase unemployment.

“The decision by the UK government can only be described as anti-business,” he said in a statement.

“All of this will come at great personal cost to our businesses and people. I’ve heard from many successful businesses who are at the forefront of renewables technology who are now being forced to look at making redundancies as a result of these changes.”

The cuts to the subsidies are included in the Energy Bill, which today will have its first reading in the House of Lords. Due for its second reading on July 22nd, as Parliament closes for the summer recess, the bill is expected to receive Royal Assent within the year, allowing for the subsidies to end on 1 April 2016.

Ewing committed to lobbying against the decision. “We will continue to make representation to both the UK Government’s Energy Department and to the Scotland Office, feeding back from what I heard at the summit and the many meetings I have had with representatives from the industry,” he added.

The bill has received criticism from businesses and politicians across the green sector, with Jenny Hogan, direct of policy at Scottish Renewables, yesterday warning that ending the Renewables Obligation one year early could have a “devastating” impact on onshore wind developers and supply chains across the country with around £3bn of investment in Scotland being put at risk.

The future for Contracts for Difference, an alternative source of funding for renewable energy, remains uncertain. Meanwhile, yesterday’s budget announcement by George Osborneconfirmed that North Sea oil and gas projects would enjoy new tax breaks, while renewable energy providers would face increased taxes.

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