FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has voiced her concern that changes to UK energy policy are coming out in a “piecemeal way via the media” instead of “proper engagement with Holyrood and the offshore energy industry”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she told MSPs: “Onshore wind, built in the right places, has an important role to play in helping to keep the lights on across these islands and it can do so at a competitive cost to consumers. Indeed, it can do so at a cheaper cost than the UK Government’s plans for new nuclear power.

“I urge the UK Government to engage constructively on this issue and not to turn its back on a key industry.”

Sturgeon’s remarks came after Energy Minister Fergus Ewing warned that the UK Government should not remove public subsidies for wind farms without consulting the Scottish Government.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is expected to announce measures to deliver on the Tories’ manifesto pledge to “end any new public subsidy” for onshore wind farms. Ewing has written to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd seeking assurances that the Scottish Government will be consulted before any change.

He said the DECC must also consult with the energy industry.

In his letter, Ewing said: “I welcome the commitment in the Queen’s Speech that there will be consultation with the devolved administrations on changes to subsidies for onshore wind farms and I look forward to that consultation.

“However, I am concerned about recent statements coming from your department relating to proposed changes in support for renewable energy.

“Any lack of clarity has the potential to stall a very substantial pipeline of investment in the UK and Scotland, and dent the UK and Scotland’s reputation with developers and investors.”

He added: “We have not received any information from your department on the possible options you are considering or what analysis has been done to assess the impact on projects in Scotland. Given the importance of the renewables sector to Scotland and prior commitments to consult, I would appreciate your reassurance that you will not make any changes to the subsidy arrangements for onshore wind without agreement from Scottish ministers.”

WWF Scotland, the environment charity, said changes to the scheme could risk undermining the development of the cheapest form of renewable energy. Its director Lang Banks said that cutting support for the lowest-cost renewable technology would be “a backward step” that would either see bills rise or climate targets missed.

“Opinion polls consistently show onshore wind to be one of the most popular forms of electricity, generating thousands of jobs across Scotland and helping to cut our carbon emissions,” he said.

“We urge the UK Government to think again on its plans to cut support and encourage the Scottish Government to continue to back the development of onshore wind in Scotland.”

The UK Government has previously stated that it will consult with Scotland on the issue.

A spokesman for the DECC said: “We’ve made it clear that we plan to consult the devolved administrations as we implement the manifesto commitment to end new public subsidy for onshore wind projects.”