David Cameron wants to go into the next election pledging to “rid” the countryside of onshore wind farms, a source close to the Prime Minister has said.
Mr Cameron wants to toughen planning laws and tear up subsidy rules to make current turbines financially unviable – allowing the Government to “eradicate” turbines, the source said.
The move will delight campaigners in traditional Conservative countryside seats and comes amid a growing Coalition row over whether to try and cap the number of wind farms.
Mr Cameron is now “of one mind” with the Government’s most vociferous opponents of “unsightly” onshore wind turbines, the source added.
The Conservatives could make a manifesto pledge to cap the total number of wind farms, toughen up planning rules to make them harder to build or even lower Government subsidies for turbines, it is understood.
Officially, the Coalition Government supports the continued development of new onshore wind farms.
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, has repeatedly said that the Government is committed to onshore wind power as part of its “renewable energy mix”.
In recent years, Conservatives in the Government have managed to cut financial support for wind farms and have used planning laws to give communities increased powers to veto unpopular developments.
The Lib Dems on Tuesday said the Prime Minister’s environmental credentials are now “dead in the water” after Nick Clegg blocked Tory plans to impose a cap on wind farms.
The Deputy Prime Minister is understood to have clashed with Mr Cameron and George Osborne, the Chancellor, in recent days over proposals to restrict onshore wind farms.
The Conservative plans would have put a limit on the total amount of energy generated in the country by onshore wind, meaning that future projects could be blocked.
However, Mr Clegg immediately vetoes the measures and said it would further undermine investors’ confidence in the UK’s renewables market.
The row will allow the Conservatives to blame Mr Clegg for vetoing their plans, meaning they can go further with manifesto pledged to clamp down on onshore wind.
A Lib Dem source said: “Nick Clegg was simply not going to allow the Tories to move the goalposts on green energy again,” the source said.
“Some sort of crude block towards onshore wind would seriously damage investor confidence in Britain’s energy markets. It would be a double whammy – bad for both British business and for the environment.”
Aides to Mr Clegg said that any bid to curb wind farms will not be sanctioned under the Coalition.
It will further strain any negotiations between the Tories and Lib Dems in the event of a hung Parliament after the 2015 election.
Mr Cameron’s official spokesman yesterday repeatedly refused to say whether or not the Prime Minister had proposed a cap on wind turbines.
Mr Cameron himself last year said that there will not be “a lot more” onshore wind turbines in the UK.
He said that “there is a limited potential for onshore wind” and that he instead wants to focus on shale gas exploration, nuclear power and offshore wind.