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Legal Action Threatened Over UK Wind Subsidies

Trade association RenewableUK says it may consider taking legal action against the government if wind power subsidies are cut by more than 10%.

After collecting evidence from the wind industry and commissioning several independent reports, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has proposed a 10 percent cut to onshore wind power subsidies as part of the subsidy package for 2013-2017. However, the BBC reported yesterday that the chancellor, George Osborne, is feeling the heat on this issue from his party's base, which wants to eliminate subsidies altogether. Over 100 conservative Members of Parliament have written to Osborne demanding heavy cuts to onshore wind subsidies. The MPs are responding to constituents' protests about wind turbines' impact on the rural landscape.

The chancellor is rumored to be considering a cut of 25 percent. But RenewableUK, the wind, wave and tidal industry trade association, has said it could initiate legal proceedings if the cuts amount to more than 10 percent. As Gordon Edge of RenewableUK told the BBC, if the government's cuts fail to take DECC's recommendations into account, the process will be seen as "nakedly political" rather than "evidence-based and rational".

Industry observers largely agree that the UK's wind sector could absorb a 10% subsidy cut, but say that a 25% cut would reduce investment in British wind power by as much as 50 percent, and would seriously threaten the industry's survival.

The government lost a prior court case on solar subsidies.

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Tildy Bayar is a journalist focusing on the energy sector. She is a former Associate Editor on RenewableEnergyWorld.com and Renewable Energy World magazine.

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