Energy Minister Greg Barker has been accused of sending “mixed messages” about the UK's renewable energy market.
The criticism follows an indication he gave that the Government believes the current pipeline of onshore wind projects is sufficient to achieve 2020 carbon reduction targets.
But business advisers Grant Thornton UK LLP warn that stating that there are “sufficient” projects already in place could discourage investment in new projects at a critical point for the industry.
Head of Energy, Environment and Sustainability at Grant Thornton Nathan Goode said: "Stating the current onshore pipeline is 'sufficient' is premature. Whether or not we hit the carbon reduction 2020 targets will be impacted by increasingly unpredictable consent decisions for onshore wind farms. In addition, the basis the Government takes for concluding the current pipeline will be sufficient to hit targets is unclear, as is whether the timetable for additional technologies, such as offshore wind, is deliverable.
"Onshore wind is the most financeable of all renewable technologies and is a technically proven technology. As such, a sustainable pipeline is needed for investment. I am concerned that Mr Barker's comments effectively give 'carte blanche' to local authorities predisposed to rejecting new planning applications as well as affecting portfolios in the pre-consent stage by discouraging investment in this area.
"There is also a major question mark over the future of the Feed in Tariff (FiT) based wind market given that it has yet to get off the ground.
"Instead of these mixed messages of support from ministers, I'd like to see a broader, more consistent and supportive position for renewables, as well as recognition that the 2020 target is not the sole objective of low carbon energy policy."