Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Wind Farm Projects Axed as Subsidies Are Removed

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Wind Farm Projects Axed as Subsidies Are Removed

Article excerpt

Byline: Graeme Whitfield

PROPOSALS for at least six new wind farms in the Northeast look set to be scrapped, with objectors in Sedgefield having the most to celebrate as a controversial 24-turbine scheme is now unlikely to proceed.

However, those hoping to see an end to any further schemes in Northumberland look set to be disappointed, with work set to start on two major new developments.

In fact at least eight new onshore wind farms look set to be built in the region in the coming months and years - adding to the 30-plus already operating - during what the Government has described as a "grace period" for developers.

When announcing its policy U-turn in the Commons, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said projects which "have planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, and evidence of land rights for the site on which their project will be built" can proceed during the grace period.

This equates to more than 10 UK schemes, with seven of these in the North-east.

Energy giant E.on has put on hold its plans for the 24-turbine Isles wind farm, at Bradbury, near Sedgefield. A spokesperson said: "We are currently reviewing some of our onshore wind farm development projects, including the Isles, which, if approved, could feature up to 24 turbines with a capacity of up to 48 MW (megawatts).

"Onshore wind remains one of the cheapest low carbon technologies available to us and is an important part of our energy mix in the UK.

"We support the efforts across the industry to bring down costs and believe it is right that all technologies should ultimately stand on their own two feet without subsidy.

"While we are disappointed that DECC has decided to close the Renewable Obligation earlier than originally planned, we welcome the use of grace periods to mitigate some of the impact for investors."

Hartlepool company Seneca Global Energy looks set to see its proposals for three schemes in the town fall short.

It did not respond to request for a comment from The Gazette, but its proposals were called in by former Local Government Minister Eric Pickles in March, and had not progressed since.

The Conservative Party manifesto for this May's election outlined the Government's proposals to halt to subsidies for onshore wind farms.

Last month Ms Rudd told the Commons that the main subsidy scheme, the Renewables Obligation (RO), would be shut down for schemes over 5MW a year earlier than planned, in April 2016.

While new schemes can bid for subsidies through the new Contracts for Difference (CfD) regime, the Government is likely to favour other renewable technologies - offshore wind and solar - in these competitive auctions, although it is unlikely to openly admit this due to concerns it may fall foul of European Union state aid rules. …

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