Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Are Turbines the Right Option? LEGAL VIEW

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Are Turbines the Right Option? LEGAL VIEW

Article excerpt


SUSTAINABLE energy has become the new form of diversification for many landowners and at the forefront of this is electricity from wind power.

The political focus on national sustainable energy targets, the UK''s slow start in production, the increased funding of the production of sustainable energy in recent months and the perceived relaxation of the planning process have all served to substantially increase applications for wind turbines.

As a result, a landowner may be approached by anyone from a small-scale entrepreneur to an international energy developer seeking rights over land identified by them as suitable for wind power generation.

It is important for the landowner to have a specialist land agent on his side at a very early stage.

An option to take a lease of land for development is one-sided because once it is signed, only the developer has the right to decide whether to exercise it or not. The option will contain all the terms that will be included in the final agreement. That agreement is likely to be a lease of around 27 years.

There are a number of factors which sometimes get overlooked at the negotiation stage.

Does the land over which it is hoped to build a wind farm contain minerals? Who owns the mineral rights? The proposed development may sterilise these minerals.

There are several other factors which landowners need to consider. For instance, the option incorporating the proposed wind farm lease may obstruct the landowner''s absolute use of his own land. It may well be anticipated that farming activities will continue up to the base of the turbines but other restrictions may be imposed.

There may also be an obligation to sign a Section 106 Agreement, often a binding obligation with the planning authority restricting the use of the land as part of the planning permission.

A covenant against shooting and hunting over the land near the turbines is often imposed. A code of conduct can be agreed with the developer as to how such activities may take place so as not to damage the proposed development. …

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