The NFU is frustrated that following Government announcements limiting support for onshore wind power, changes to the planning regime (made without consultation) now fail to distinguish between large wind farms and single turbines.
In written ministerial statements, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, said that new planning rules would take effect from June 18; and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, proposed constraints on support for onshore wind under the Renewables Obligation and possibly the Feed-in Tariff.
The NFU is concerned about the impact this may have on farmers and growers wishing to diversify their businesses with on-site power generation, the income from which will help make their farm enterprises more profitable and resilient in a volatile world.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “We are shocked but not surprised at the extent of this apparent U-turn by Government in low-carbon energy policy. These new planning rules could significantly impact on our members’ ability to invest in wind projects on farm, reduce their input costs and make farm enterprises more sustainable.
“We strongly believe that the Government should have consulted more widely, to ensure that these guidelines were fair and workable before bringing them into force.
“The NFU would like to see a distinction made between ‘farm wind’ and ‘wind farms’, in order to enable our members to continue diversifying and supporting their businesses with locally generated renewable energy.
“It does not appear that local planning authorities have been given the chance to get the necessary local plan policies in place. Furthermore, it may be hard for planners to judge whether, after consultation, ‘all the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed’.”
In the NFU’s Farming Manifesto for the 2015 General Election, the NFU specifically asked for:
1. Greater consistency in low-carbon energy policy across incentives, planning, grid access and energy storage;
2. A cross-Government land-based renewable energy strategy utilising anaerobic digestion, biofuels, biomass, by-products, solar and wind;
3. Planning rules that enable farmers to compete and grow, allowing more efficient and sustainable farm enterprises.