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Update 23 July -Planning changes & subsidy cuts to deliver Manifesto pledge to halt spread of onshore wind farms.

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2. ROC subsidy system to close on 1 April 2016.   -

Amber Rudd Statement in the House of Commons-     The official Hansard report

Government press release in which Amber Rudd, Energy and Climate Change Secretary says :- “We want to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not encourage a reliance on public subsidies.”


The early closure of the ROC system is welcomed as an important first step in delivering the manifesto pledge to “halt the spread of onshore windfarms”. Closing the lucrative option of the ROC system will help because it will deter wind development in areas of low wind resource. However it still leaves developers the options to apply for cfd subsidy system and for smaller developments (under 5MW) it leaves open the option of the even more lucrative subsidies available through the feed in tariff system. Information about subsidies here

The need for the curtailment of subsidies is brought about by the fact that onshore wind received over £800 Million in subsidies in 2014 and that this supported a meagre 5% of the electricity consumed in the UK. It should be noted that the £800M excludes subsidy paid via the feed in tariff paid to single turbines which are described as small and medium scale but can still be up to 100 metres high.

The key fact regarding subsidies is that they were introduced to encourage wind developers to build 13GW of capacity. This is now secure with operational wind farms and others which have already been approved but not yet built. The grace period proposed would enable up to 5.2GW of onshore wind capacity which already has planning consent and an agreed grid connection to still get the ROC subsidy up until closure. There is no further need to continue the subsidy for any additional onshore wind farms.

The wind industry disagree - no surprise given that they currently get £800M per year in subsidy. They claim that abolishing the subsidies will result in more expensive electricity. Yorkshire Post report The other argument that they put forward is that the onshore wind industry supports  19,000 jobs - if this is true the subsidy per job is £42,000 per year. An industry that requires this level of support is not sustainable.

The larger sites for wind farms have mostly been taken up and the recent trend has been towards more single turbines. These qualify for the fit system which is the most lucrative subsidy. The trend is towards even more of these, peppering more of the countryside with large numbers of 300 foot high turbines. These turbines can generate a subsidy of about £200K per turbine per year and not require any of the power to be fed into the grid.

It is reassuring to see that the announcement confirms that there will be a review of the fit system later in the year and this will hopefully curtail the proliferation of large single turbines.

A welcome statement, a good initial step, but there is still much further work to be done to bring the cost of electricity generation under control and not destroy the character of the English countryside.

Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams says he is delighted at new Government powers to veto wind farms and halt the spread of turbines across the countryside.

Nigel Adams introduced a bill in Parliament earlier this year calling for the abolition of subsidies for onshore windfarms and the Conservative Government has now delivered on this by announcing that there will be no further subsidies for new windfarms from 2016. Full details

The Government has also announced new planning guidance designed to ensure local residents have the final say over onshore wind farm applications and turbines will no longer imposed on communities who do not want them.

Under the planning changes, all onshore wind farm applications will be decided at local level, rather than national authorities dealing with the biggest projects.

There will also be two new “planning tests” so that councils can only approve wind farms on sites that have been clearly designated as part of any local or neighbourhood plan, and where the proposed project has the backing of the local community.

Nigel Adams commented: “I am delighted that the new Conservative government has acted quickly to help stop the unwanted spread of inappropriately sited windfarms. This is a good day for those potentially affected by such an application and a good day for the campaign that myself and several Conservative colleagues have been leading in Parliament.”

Greg Clark, the Communities Secretary, added: “Our One Nation approach is about backing people on the issues that really matter to them and we are today delivering on our commitment to give local people the final say over onshore wind farm applications.”

Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary said: “We will drive forward our commitment to end the public subsidy for onshore wind farms. Onshore wind is an important part of our energy mix but we now have enough projects in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments.”

Politics home comment on the subsidy cut

See previous page for the manifesto pledge that is being met by today’s announcements.

 Summary changes

1.Changes to planning so that residents have “the final say” over onshore wind farm applications such that turbines cannot continue to be “imposed on communities” who do not want them.

2. The Government will close the Renewables Obligation across Great Britain to new onshore wind farms from 1 April 2016.


1. Changes to wind farm planning policy

Greg Clark Statement to the House of Commons - The official Hansard report for 18 Jun 2015

The full statement can be accessed via the above link - the following is part of that statement.

I am today setting out new considerations to be applied to proposed wind energy development that local people have the final say on wind farm applications, fulfilling the commitment made in the Conservative election manifesto.

When determining planning applications for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines, local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if:

· the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and

· following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected l ocal communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

Comment - This is a very positive move because it shifts the emphasis from communities having to prove that the harm is unacceptable to developers having to prove that they have addressed planning impacts identified by affected local communities and that the propsal has the backing of the local community.

Changes to planning guidance for on-shore wind - Full set here - includes

Do local people have the final say on wind farm applications?

The Written Ministerial Statement made on 18 June 2015 is quite clear that when considering applications for wind energy development, local planning authorities should (subject to the transitional arrangement) only grant planning permission if: the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.   And

Whether the proposal has the backing of the affected local community is a planning judgement for the local planning authority.

July 23  Update    Further clarification is given in this letter

Other recent news

Subsidy cut announcement

Onshore wind - Planning changes

The pledge to make changes

Lumby appeal

Bishopwood appeal update