Germans who live near wind turbines could be paid compensation by the government under a proposal to boost supplies of renewable energy.
Matthias Miersch of Germany’s Social Democrat party (SPD) said his scheme would encourage Germans to move near the controversial wind farms as well as rewarding those who already do.
The payments would either be made to community organisations and municipalities, or directly to home-owners.
Mr Miersch told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung “those who accept windmills in their neighbourhood make the expansion of renewable energy possible and should be rewarded”.
The proposal has not met with widespread approval, however, with Uwe Brandl of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities saying the payments were effectively “hush money”.
“If we start paying people to keep quiet, it’ll start with windmills and then go on with roads and other infrastructure,” Mr Brandl said.
Wind farm growth has slowed in Germany, with 2020 having the fewest planned new turbines for 20 years, potentially undermining the country’s efforts to achieve its renewable energy goals set under the Paris Agreement.
Germany plans to draw 65 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
While Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats – the larger part of Germany’s governing coalition – did not respond on Sunday, the Greens have welcomed the plan.
The scheme does not indicate the amount of compensation or potential cost to the taxpayer.
Despite widespread support for renewable energy across Germany, residents living near wind farms have frequently complained about noise and visual pollution.
Conservationists have also criticised wind farms for posing a deadly threat to birds, bats and insects.
While the scale of the project is novel, the idea of compensating those who live near wind farms in Germany is not new.
The northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2016 required that companies building wind farms needed to offer 20 percent of their shares to residents and municipalities within five kilometres of the proposed farms.
Similarly, local authorities in the eastern state of Brandenburg receive a payment of €10,000 (£8,500) per wind turbine per annum.