UK small-medium wind industry uncertain due to policy changes

UK small-medium wind industry uncertain due to policy changes

UK wind industry uncertain

The UK has experienced some unsavoury policy changes recently when the government has allowed local communities the power of veto when it comes to onshore wind energy.
As a result, many companies have been reaching out to the government to voice their opinion and provide industry facts. Endurance (along with EWT and Windflow) recently wrote a letter to communities secretary, Greg Clark in the hopes of creating a better understanding of the wind industry and to gain some much needed support. The online magazine, Energy & Environment Management obtained a copy of the letter, shown below:
Dear Secretary of State,
The Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) recent amendments to planning guidance for onshore wind have removed all objectivity and clarity from the England’s planning process for small scale turbines.
The move directly threatens rural business models and puts more than 3,500 UK jobs at risk. Yet it has been made without consulting farmers, manufacturing businesses, or those working across the small wind supply chain. For those with turbines currently in the planning system, it places at severe risk the money they have spent to progress through what is an already challenging process.
The value of farm wind
Diversification to supplement essential base farming income is a current priority in UK farming, and for good reason. Total income from farming is estimated to have fallen by 4.4% between 2013 and 2014. In the same time period, electricity prices for small non-domestic users have increased by over 10%.[2] Falling commodity prices (e.g. DEFRA reports a 26% drop in farm gate milk prices from April 2014 to April 2015) are putting even further stress on farm revenues, making survival a daily challenge. Many local industrial companies also face the challenges of rising non-domestic energy charges.
It is imperative that British farmers both secure new income streams that can contribute to their farms’ cash flow, and generate power to stem the tide of rising energy costs. Small wind turbines that enable these increasingly squeezed business to ‘farm wind’ are of huge value to the survival of British farms, as well as other small and medium industries which form the fabric of the wider rural economy. Indeed, over 95% of Endurance customers are British farmers.
Local planning confusion
In his 18 June 2015 statement, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clarke stated that “local residents must have the final say over whether onshore wind farm applications get the go-ahead in their area.”
Worryingly, the new requirement for local backing fails to give local residents any say at all unless onshore wind has been written into their council’s Local Plan. Of the 400 Local Planning Authorities in Britain, just 68 have such plans. According to the Planning Inspectorate, 199 haven’t even started the process.
Even of those councils that do have a local plan, not all have an explicit policy on wind; this is causing confusion even amongst Planning Officers.
For example, Policy Officers from Mid Devon DC and North West Leicestershire DC have indicated that any application submitted now should be refused on the basis that they do not have any areas identified for wind energy. They have also indicated that they do not consider that they are obliged to identify areas for wind energy development in the emerging local plans that they are working on.
Similarly, Pendle Borough has stated that: “For future applications, as we have no allocated areas for wind turbines, we would have no option but to refuse all wind turbine applications.” This despite the fact that Pendle’s local plan directly references the Landscape Capacity Study for wind turbines in the South Pennines.
Empowering rural communities
Attention to date has focused on the change of policies relating to renewable energy tariffs, but these planning guidance changes, which fundamentally fail to recognise the vital role of small scale wind to rural communities, are even more damaging. Far from fulfilling the commitment made in the Conservative Party manifesto, they are much further reaching and carry far more consequence than had even been hinted at during the election.
Yet contrarily, while the guidance on wind has now changed, it should not be forgotten that the National Planning Policy Framework still stipulates that that Local Planning Authorities should be in favour of renewables.
It is imperative that DCLG recognises and reinstates the right of farmers and rural communities to deploy small-scale clean technologies that are appropriate to the location.
Yours sincerely
Brett Pingree, Endurance Wind Power
Mark Jones, EWT
Geoff Henderson, Windflow

Brett Pingree, VP of Global Sales at Endurance and one of the signatories of the above letter does a great job of outlining the political climate in the UK and the effect it has on the wind energy industry in his article titled, “Enabling rural communities to thrive: Powering the rural economy”. I recommend you give it a read!
Small-medium onshore wind provides many benefits to local farmers and communities. The wind industry in the UK has benefited the country tremendously, and should be supported by government for its considerable contributions.

Posted By Sally on July 21, 2015 | 0 Comment

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