During the five years of the Coalition, a popular question was what a Conservative government would look like if it were not restrained by Nick Clegg and his phalanx of balls and chains.
The early days of David Cameron’s second term offer many answers, but Amber Rudd has offered one of her own by announcing an end to Government subsidies for on-shore wind developments.
In the last Parliament the turbine-sceptic agenda was championed by Eric Pickles, who campaigned for local vetoes over new developments.
Along with gay marriage and aid spending, wind farms were part of an eclectic clutch of policies UKIP were attacking heavily on, and the Tories were keen to limit the damage.
To that end John Hayes was appointed Energy Minister, with instructions from David Cameron to “deliver a win for our people on windfarms”.
However he proved unable to loosen Ed Davey’s hold on the Department, and after what Politics Home describes as a “short but heavyweight reign” he was moved out of DECC after only eight months.
Of course, last month Davey’s grip on power was loosened decisively when he lost his seat to the Tories, who now have a chance to make good on their promises in this area as in so many others.
Yet the devil lies in the detail: the previous Government would often make an announcement that garnered impressive headlines yet delivered rather less than said coverage implied.
Indeed, the Telegraph reports that a ‘grace period’ loophole built into Rudd’s announcement could still allow for the subsidised construction of almost three thousand turbines before the wind farm support programme is finally halted.
In addition to predictable resistance by the wind energy industry, the Scottish Government looks set to pick a fight over the subsidies and has threatened possible legal action.
Rural campaigners and the Scottish Conservatives, who have campaigned against new wind developments, must hope that the Government sticks to its guns this time.