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.



Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Exhibition Content Developer

£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in South Kensington, this prestigi...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003