The UK election, eh? What a lot of fuss about nothing.
It is one week since the Conservative Party won a slim majority in the UK election. This is the party’s first chance to govern alone since Labour won its landslide victory under Tony Blair in 1997; and comes after five years in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
In the run-up to the vote last week we argued that a coalition would be best for wind, as it would rein in the anti-wind policies of the Conservatives or the anti-business policies of the main opposition party, Labour. We stand by that analysis.
But unquestionably for those in the financial services industry, including those based in the UK who are investing in wind farms around the world, a Conservative victory is best. With five more years of David Cameron as UK prime minister there is little chance of a big crackdown on the financial services sector.
Put simply, the Tories will be unashamedly pro-business.
This helps breed confidence among UK businesses that they will be able to keep growing, keep investing, and keep creating jobs.
They can see that the government is committed to cutting red tape, and is opposed to pursuing policies that harm financial services. This confidence and stability is vital if the UK is to attract further investment from overseas wind firms, like the commitments by MHI Vestas and Siemens to open factories in the UK.
The only downside is the prospect of a referendum by 2017 on whether the UK wants to leave the European Union, which would have impacts in areas including energy policy. But overall, the result is undoubtedly best for UK investors and businesses as a whole.
There is, of course, a serious but.
The election result is the worst for developers who want to pursue onshore and offshore wind projects in the UK. The Conservatives say they want to axe subsidies for new onshore wind farms, and they will be free to pursue such a destructive policy without the influence of the Liberal Democrats in government.
No longer is there the moderating voice of Ed Davey, the Lib Dem former climate change secretary.
If the government takes the axe to onshore wind then offshore wind is not safe either. The continued growth of this global industry, in which the UK is a leader, is now in question.
And let’s just look at the composition of the new cabinet. On first glance, it looks good that new energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd has been pro-renewables; and it is also good that Eric Pickles has been shunted out of the Department of Communities and Local Government, so he can no longer call in wind farm applications and reject them.
But, looking a little deeper, we see hints that the onshore wind industry’s worst fears are set to come true. Pickles has been replaced by Greg Clark who, though nowhere near as divisive as Pickles, is also the architect of the government’s localism agenda. That means more powers for local communities to object to local developments, including wind farms.
And there is also the appointment of Andrea Leadsom, a big wind critic, as an energy minister. She is likely to be tasked with ending subsidies for wind farms, which she has said “still needs to be proven as a valuable contribution to our energy security needs”.
Leadsom celebrated her birthday on Wednesday. For the wind industry, her appointment is certainly nothing to celebrate.
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