Last week my Conservative Parliamentary colleague Andrew Bridgen tabled a 10 Minute Rule Bill to abolish subsidies for future windfarms. I supported him. We won the vote 59-57 in favour of the abolition.
Ten Minute rule bills do not usually become Acts of Parliament. They are backbench initiatives. Government does not make time available to enable them to become laws, though the better ideas are sometimes taken up by government and incorporated into one of their bills or future executive action.
The advantage of the format is the short debate takes place in prime time after questions, can attract publicity, and may highlight an important issue to government for their consideration.
This bill meets all those requirements. It highlights the hugely expensive cost of renewable electricity, at a time when plunging gas and oil prices are making power generated from fossil fuels so much cheaper. The advocates of windfarms have often told us the large subsidies they attract will vanish in future years as the price of fossil fuel energy surges. They did not usually explain just how much dearer renewable power will become in conditions when fossil fuel prices plummet.
The presence of large windfarms in Scotland will be a burden with escalating subsidy levels to keep them turning. Conservatives wish to call a halt to expensive onshore wind, and many of us wish to eliminate all new subsidies altogether.
It is high time we made affordable energy our priority, and used more methods to generate power that keep the lights on even when the wind is not blowing. Total subsidies to renewables are around £2bn a year already, paid by electricity consumers. The burden gets bigger the more they build, and the cheaper the alternative way of generating power becomes.