Conservatives omit solar from 2015 manifesto

The Conservative Party has omitted solar from its 2015 election manifesto and pledged to stop support for other renewable energies, prompting criticism from industry and environmental groups.

Conservative leader David Cameron launched his party’s manifesto today and outlined its energy strategy for the next parliamentary term.

However, unlike Labour and the Green Party, the Conservatives have not expressed commitments to solar or renewable energies in general, instead outlining support of fracking and nuclear power.

The party also detailed plans to axe public funding of onshore wind farms and tighten planning controls, claiming them to be “unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires” and lack public support.

The manifesto does include pledges to provide start-up funding for promising renewable technologies and research, but qualifies this by stating that significant support will only be granted to technologies that “clearly represent value for money”.

Its lack of substantial support for renewable energy was met with condemnation from industry and environmental groups who labelled it “anti-green growth and anti-clean energy”.

RenewableUK, deputy chief executive, Maf Smith said the manifesto “spectacularly fails to recognise the high level of support among ordinary voters for onshore wind” and accused the party of being “seriously misinformed” with its suggestions over wind’s lack of firm capacity.

“Onshore wind is one of the cheapest of all sources of energy, so by turning their backs on it, the Tories are proposing to deprive voters of one of the most effective means of keeping all our electricity bills down. So when the Tories claim in their manifesto that they intend to cut carbon emissions as cost-effectively as possible they’re being breathtakingly illogical and therefore idiotic.

“Overall, this is an anti-green growth, anti-clean energy manifesto that will only find favour with the dwindling bunch of fossil fuel advocates who still donate to the Conservative party and thus dictate their energy policy,” Smith said.

And Renewable Energy Association chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said it was “deeply concerning” that the Conservatives had failed to put forward any policies in support of renewable energy.

“Rather than building on what they have already achieved in the last five years, the Conservative manifesto fails to even mention key technologies such as solar and biomass which would help us reach the climate change targets Cameron recently signed up to in a cost effective way. It is extremely disappointing that the manifesto does not reflect the ambition we expected and hoped for from the Conservatives,” Skorupska added.

Greenpeace UK chief scientist Doug Parr meanwhile said the election manifesto was a “recipe for higher consumer bills”.

“The Tories' double standards and ideological bias are embarrassingly obvious. They'll champion localism when it comes to wind farms, but they'll run roughshod over local people's concerns when it's about fracking,” he said.
 

This story has been amended from its original version to include additional comment from the Renewable Energy Association.