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windfarm2RESIZE-20150619115847120In a ministerial statement, Rudd said the Renewables Obligation (RO), which requires electricity suppliers to source an increasing proportion of their energy from renewable sources, would close to new onshore schemes from 1 April next year – 12 months earlier than had been planned.

The move would be part of her party’s manifesto commitment to “end new subsidies for onshore wind”, the statement said.

Her announcement was made in parallel with a ministerial statement from communities secretary Greg Clark, which introduced new rules for local planning authorities on approving onshore wind applications, following a related manifesto pledge to give communities the “final say” on new turbine development.

Rudd said that while primary legislation would be required to change RO eligibly, the government already had the necessary powers to implement its manifesto commitments in relation to Contracts for Difference (CfD) subsidies, which offset the cost of investment in new infrastructure by effectively augmenting the income from power generated.

“The government is committed to meeting objectives on cutting carbon emissions and the UK’s 2020 renewable energy targets,” she said.

“Onshore wind has deployed successfully to date and is an important part of our energy mix. We now have enough onshore wind in the pipeline, to be subsidised by bill payers through the Renewable Obligation or Contracts for Difference, for onshore wind to play a significant part in meeting our renewable energy commitments.”

Rudd said there would be a grace period giving access to support under the RO to those projects that already had planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, and evidence of land rights for the site on which their project would be built.

She added that it was her intention that final proposals, to be framed in an Energy Bill this parliamentary session, would web applied across Great Britain.

Wind industry trade association RenewableUK said the early end to RO eligibility would jeopardise thousands of jobs and millions of pounds worth of investment.

Chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “If government was really serious about ending subsidy it should be working with industry to help us bring costs down, not slamming the door on the lowest cost option.”

by Jim Dunton, http://www.planningresource.co.uk/

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solar windEurope will likely get more than half of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the next decade if EU countries meet their climate pledges, according to a draft commission paper.

A planned overhaul of the continent’s electricity grids will now need to be sped up, says the leaked text, seen by the Guardian.

“Reaching the European Union 2030 energy and climate objectives means the share of renewables is likely to reach 50% of installed electricity capacity,” says the consultation paper, due to be published on 15 July. “This means that changes to the electricity system in favour of decarbonisation will have to come even faster.”

The EU has set itself a goal of cutting emissions 40% on 1990 levels by 2030, and an aspiration for a 27% share for renewables across Europe’s full energy mix, which includes sectors such as transport, agriculture and buildings that do not necessarily rely on electricity. Around a quarter of Europe’s electricity currently comes from renewable sources.

Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association welcomed the draft text but noted the 27% goal for 2030 was non-binding, and some countries were looking likely to even miss an earlier goal, for 2020, that is binding.

“Even with a binding provision, we are seeing the Netherlands, UK and France potentially missing their 2020 target [to source a fifth of energy provision from renewables].”

Joy called for the commission to deliver a governance system for renewables that prevented slacker states from hiding behind the more fast-moving ones.

Downing Street would almost certainly resist more stringent oversight from Brussels on renewable energy. Other measures put up for discussion in the paper could be an anathema to the government’s eurosceptic backbenchers.

One question in the consultation document linking market distortions to divergent energy taxes and charges, leaves the door open for proposals to harmonise taxes. These would raise hackles with several countries, the Conservative MEP Ian Duncan warned.

“I can’t believe that common taxes are the right approach for opening up markets,” he told the Guardian. “If we get bogged down in the the notion of common taxes, it will drag the whole thing down – and it won’t be pretty I’m afraid.”

The paper also proposes intraday cross-border power trading between countries so that renewable energy can be instantly dispatched to meet demand, without the need for storage. This kind of trading only takes place on a day-ahead basis at present.

Brussels

The government has been accused of ‘bias’ over a secretary of state decision to refuse a planning appeal for a five-turbine Northamptonshire wind farm, against a planning inspector’s recommendation of approval.

Developer Broadview Energy Developments, which had its planning appeal against a council’s refusal of the scheme blocked by former communities secretary Eric Pickles last December, is seeking to have the decision overturned at the High Court.

Broadview accuses the government of bias, claiming that the decision to refuse its appeal was made by a minister – against the recommendation of a planning inspector – after “private meetings” with local MP Andrea Leadsom, who led the fight to block the five turbine wind farm at Spring Farm Ridge.

Jeremy Pike, representing Broadview, said that this constituted a breach of “natural justice” and gave rise to “actual or apparent bias”, because the content of the meeting was not disclosed to Broadview and they were not given an equal opportunity to make their own representations in response.

Broadview says it has been “prejudiced” and that the decision should be quashed.

However, Daniel Kolinsky QC argued on behalf of the secretary of state that there was no error of law and that the decision should stand.

He said that the truth behind the alleged meetings is much more prosaic, and that they amounted to conversations in the tea room and lobby of the House of Commons in which Leadsom took the “unscheduled opportunity” to discuss the wind farm proposal.

He said that they added nothing new, and were not taken into account in the decision, therefore giving rise to no breach of natural justice or bias, whether actual or apparent.

Mr Justice Cranston will give his decision in writing at a later date.

Broadview Energy Developments Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/408/2015

SOURCE – http://www.planningresource.co.uk/

Plans to make legislative changes in order to devolve powers to determine major onshore wind farm applications to local authorities are included in an Energy Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Wind power: government to shift decision powers to local councils
Wind power: government to shift decision powers to local councils
A briefing note on the Energy Bill says that the proposed legislation would remove the need for the secretary of state’s consent for any large onshore wind farms over 50MW, in line with the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to “give local communities the final say on wind farm applications”.

“This, in effect, would devolve powers out of Whitehall by transferring existing consenting powers, in relation to onshore wind, to local planning authorities,” the briefing note said.

It added: “This will mean that in future the primary decision maker for onshore wind consents in England and Wales will be the local planning authority.

“These changes will be supported by changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to give effect to the manifesto commitment that local communities should have the final say on planning applications for wind farms.”

The briefing note said that the changes would not impact on the planning regime in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Source – http://www.planningresource.co.uk/