In June 2015 Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, made a statement in Parliament proposing new grace periods for onshore wind which, as of 18th June 2015, already had planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance and evidence of land rights for the wind farm site.
Twentyshilling Hill Wind Farm’s planning application had been approved in December 2014, subject to a s75 agreement, and had a grid offer and land rights in place on the qualifying date. However during the passage of the Bill through Parliament it became clear that the Government considered the local planning decision taken by Dumfries and Galloway Council as only ‘minded to approve’ and not consent.
Element Power made many representations to Government on behalf of Twentyshilling Hill, a wind farm approved locally and democratically, receiving significant investment and achieving everything technically to meet the cut-off date. We asked that grace period conditions should allow for delays in the issuing of decision notices resulting from the time it takes to produce procedural written agreements.
Liberal Democrat and Labour Peers in the House of Lords, their colleagues in the Commons and SNP MPs all voted for the inclusion of s75 wind farm projects in the RO grace period however eventually the Government’s position prevailed and the Bill received Royal Assent on 12th May 2016.
We must now look to the future; the Government has said that the UK’s electricity will be generated from gas, nuclear and renewables and not from coal. Onshore wind is now the cheapest of all those options and Twentyshilling Hill remains an excellent site for a wind farm.
In January the Energy Minister invited Element Power to stay in touch with DECC regarding the development of a market stabilising Contract for Difference (CfD) support mechanism which would ensure a level playing field between renewables and other generation technologies and allow further on-shore wind development.