Cash incentives for councils that sign up for new wind farms

A A A

Local councils are to get extra funding if they give the go-ahead to new wind farms, under plans to stop local communities sabotaging renewable energy projects.

Ministers are worried at the vast number of wind farm projects that are being turned down by councillors in the face of local opposition. The Independent revealed yesterday that the number of planning approvals for onshore wind farms is at an all time low, with only one in three applications getting to go-ahead.

There are now 233 separate local campaign groups against wind farms. As a result ministers have agreed that local councils should be given incentives to help persuade them to approve more wind farms.

Under the plans councils will be allowed to keep the business rates generated by wind farms – which currently have to be passed to central government.

Even a small wind farm with just five turbines pays business rates of around £37,000 a year. The money would come without pre-conditions on how it is spent.

“For a small district council who, especially now, does not have large sums to spend without strings attached, this could make a significant difference to the way in which they approach these applications,” said one source familiar with the discussions.

“This is money councillors will be able to spend on their own projects. The idea is that it gives them an incentive to say yes.”

Another possibility which has been investigated would require wind farm developers to make contributions to the local economy as a condition of planning approval – either as part of the proposed community infrastructure levy or the existing section 106 rules.

Such conditions already apply to some other commercial developments, such as housing developments or supermarkets, although in the case of wind farms it would be more complicated to administer and would pass on the cost directly to the renewables industry.

Clllr Gary Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association's Environment Board, said it was vital that local communities were given a stake in wind farms. “Councillors are elected to represent the interests and concerns of people in their area and will quite rightly take this into account when making decisions on whether to permit this sort of development,” he said.

“People need to see how wind farms will benefit them and their local areas - whether that be financially or by supplying renewable energy to their homes and businesses.

“It is only when local communities can see clearly the benefits of renewable energy at both national and local level that individual proposals for renewable energy will be welcomed as a matter of course.”

A spokesman for RenewableUK, which represents the wind farm industry said they would be in favour of the business rate proposal: “You need to make the benefits of renewable energy obvious to local communities. Other countries, like Spain, who have mature renewable energy markets do this. It’s not reinventing the wheel.”

But Michael Hird, from the Campaign Against Wind farms, said it the payment amounted to “a bribe”.

“This is nothing short of a bribe to get local councils to agree to wind farms. They should be spending money on good green energy and not this.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “The UK needs onshore wind in order to help deliver energy security and to combat climate change, however we recognise the concern some local authorities and communities have about hosting wind farms. We are working with communities and Local Government to ensure that communities benefit directly from the wind farms they host - for example through retaining the business rates they generate”.

* The Lake District could become a 'dumping ground' for the nuclear industry, environmentalists warned after the Government failed to rule out using England’s largest national park to bury radioactive waste.

As the country decommissions the nine power stations currently running, pressure is building to find a permanent solution deep underground. At the moment waste is stored on site.

To find the best sites, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched a geological survey of West Cumbria, the only county where councils have agreed to store nuclear waste.

Land under the towns of Keswick, Cockermouth and the Wast Water have not been ruled out by the British Geological Survey.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer / Systems Administrator

£25000 - £32500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in SW London, this compan...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion this leading designer and sup...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee