Windfarm Roundup March 19 2006

 'Enough is enough': wind farm builder threatens to quit UK
By Tim Webb
Published: 19 March 2006
One of the UK's largest wind farm developers has threatened to pull out of the country as a storm blows up over the Government's plans for renewable energy.
A logjam in the planning process for developers means that many wind farms will not be operational for a decade. Unless financing rules are changed, Wind Energy is warning that many will never even get built, which could force the Government to miss its targets on renewable energy.
The timing of the protest is embarrassing for the Government, which next month will close consultation on its energy review on nuclear power. Its previous review - only three years ago - was supposed to back renewable energy such as wind power.
Wind Energy wants to build 800MW of onshore wind farms in Scotland, enough to power a city the size of Edinburgh.
National Grid has told the company, and developers of around 100 other wind farms in Scotland, totalling around 6,000MW, that they will not be connected to the grid before 2016.
But despite the huge timelag, developers still have to table deposits upfront to cover the cost of the upgrades to the grid - even if planning permission for their site is not granted and the wind farm does not go ahead.
Under the planning regime, developers have to apply for connection to the grid before they can gain planning permission. Around half the planning applications for onshore wind farms in the UK fail.
Even if a developer secures planning approval and does not lose its deposit for connection, it is not home and dry. Should a nearby wind farm plan fall through, the other developers sharing the planned upgrade to the grid have to shoulder the failed developer's liabilities.
Mike Davies, managing director of Wind Energy, said developers should be able to delay payment until a decision on planning permission is made.
He added that developers had earned a temporary reprieve, until September, before they have to start paying millions of pounds in connection fees to National Grid.
"We are relying on the Government to sort this out in the next six months. Unless things change, we would have to say 'enough is enough - we are pulling out'. We will move to other countries where these projects are easier to develop instead. Trying to get through the regulatory and planning system in the UK is like running in treacle. It needs some movement from the top urgently."
The Government has set a target to generate a 10th of the UK's electricity, or around 7,000MW, from renewable sources by 2010 rising to a fifth by 2020.
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12:30 - 18 March 2006
Protesters against a proposed windfarm near Normanby were horrified to find letters supporting the application had not come from North Lincolnshire.
As previously reported, North Lincolnshire Council received 420 letters about the application, with around 400 supporting the proposal. But Marion Green, of the Flixborough Residents' Association, said around 390 were form letters sent from around the country.
However, council officials said they had to log any letters of support or objection they received, wherever they came from.
The proposal by Wind Prospect is to build nine wind turbines on Normanby Estate, near Normanby, which will be 125 metres tall.
Mrs Green said: "My husband and I went to look at the letters and they were all identical.
"We thought it was odd because there seemed to be only a few people in our village who were in support of it. The letters have come from towns in England and Wales, and there are hardly any from North Lincolnshire.
"It's important, because these people aren't going to be living near the windfarm, or in the area affected by it."
Previously, the council had received objections from parish councils in Flixborough, Burton-Upon-Stather and Roxby.
Tony Lyman, head of planning and regeneration at the council, said: "If the letters are duly submitted in the time period for consultation, and they are in support, we have to take them into account," he said.
"393 letters were in a pro forma style - meaning they are the same - but we would be challenged if we ignored them. The application is still live, so I can't comment on the effect these letters could have. We have to put all the information before the members before they make a decision."
The application will be debated again at the next planning meeting, due to be held at Pittwood House on March 30.
Wind farm raises home value fears
RESIDENTS living near a proposed wind farm in Midlothian fear their properties will drop in value as a result of the development.
The controversial plans to erect 18 wind turbines at a popular beauty spot at Auchencorth Moss, near Penicuik - on a country estate owned by Sir Robert Clerk - are designed to provide an alternative source of power for 22,000 homes.
But local residents are up in arms about the project, and Midlothian Council has been swamped with objections to power giant E.ON.UK's planning application.
Property expert Simon Fairclough, from the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre, said: "Wind farms are an interesting concept - as a source of science fiction fantasy - but also undisputedly as an industrial facility.
"Agreeing to build a wind farm within sight or hearing of a residence will have an impact on the likely resale value of the property. Would the siting of a wind farm be likely to enhance the value? The answer is no."
Villages split over turbines
RESIDENTS are divided over whether plans for a controversial wind farm should go ahead.
Renewable Energy Systems Ltd wants to put 13 wind turbines 120 metres high on land at Wadlow Farm between Balsham and West Wratting, but has yet to submit an official planning application.
Jim Paice, MP for Cambridgeshire South East, has surveyed 2,500 homes and found 43 per cent of the 500 residents who responded are in favour of the idea while 53 per cent are against. Four per cent were undecided.
Just 18 per cent of West Wratting residents support the idea compared to 51 per cent from Balsham.
Those opposed are worried about how the scheme will look, noise and the potential distraction to drivers on the A11, while some people in favour said they could change their mind if it damaged wildlife.
Mr Paice said: "Given the strong views held on this controversial proposal it was important to let local residents have their say and I am delighted that so many people took part. The results will be passed on to South Cambridgeshire District Council and must be taken into account by the planning authorities.
"It is imperative that the final decision balances the need for more renewable energy with the interests of local people and the local environment."
Mr Paice carried out the survey with South Cambridgeshire Coun Richard Barrett, who represents Balsham and West Wratting, and resident Vicky Ford, of High Street, Balsham.
She said: "Of those who support the wind farm a number of people wrote that the Government should focus urgently on all forms of renewable energy.
"Of those who oppose the wind farm, many said that the visual impact was a major concern and point out that this is a particularly beautiful area of unspoilt countryside. This windfarm is much larger than any nearby - the turbine heights are far greater than those in March or Swaffham. A number of people said that they thought this development was simply too large and they thought some of these turbines are too close to the villages.
"If the wind farm is built then it is important that these issues are addressed."
17 March 2006
he Sunday Times   March 19, 2006
Lottery throws £10m to the wind
Mark Macaskill and John Elliott
THE government has been accused of raiding £10m of lottery money intended for good causes to subsidise the construction of a wind farm by a foreign energy company.
The grant to a subsidiary of Elsam, a Danish energy giant that is being taken over by the Danish state, will help to pay for a wind farm four miles offshore in Liverpool Bay.
This weekend the manager of the project admitted it would have gone ahead with or without the lottery cash. "The project in itself is viable without the grant," said Adrian Maddocks. "I think it was just pot luck."
However, Phil Ruffles, an expert on energy supply and a former vice-president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: "Iím not sure lottery money was ever intended to subsidise electrical supply. It sounds like a bit of a cheat."
The £10m is part of £50m awarded by the lottery to renewable energy schemes. It has granted £18m to the British subsidiary of the German firm E.ON to construct a biomass-fuelled power station in Lockerbie.
The Buccleuch Group, a company owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, one of Britainís largest landowners, has been awarded a lottery grant of £572,000 to help pay for "biomass heat clusters" ó furnaces burning waste from the dukeís estates.
Construction of the offshore wind farm is to begin later this year on what is known as the Burbo Bank. The project will eventually see the erection of 25 wind turbines, each about 425ft high. The cost is expected to be around £120m and the scheme will provide power for about 70,000 homes on Merseyside.The lottery grant of £10.4m was awarded to SeaScape Energy, which is owned by Elsam. Last week Elsam announced profits after tax of more than £130m on a turnover of £1.1 billion.
Opposition politicians, environmentalists and campaigners against wind farms have all rounded on the decision to award the cash. Ruffles said wind farms, like other renewable energy sources, already received significant subsidies from the taxpayer.
Hugo Swire, the Tory shadow secretary for culture, media and sport, said: "We all recognise the need to tackle global warming, but what justification can there be for spending national lottery money on a Danish-owned wind farm?"
A spokesman for the Big Lottery Fund said the Burbo project would also have a "positive social impact" by creating jobs in the Liverpool area.