Small stakes won't win over wind's detractors

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Richard Heap
November 7, 2014
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Small stakes won't win over wind's detractors

The UK’s 2015 general election is now exactly six months away. The vote on 7th May 2015 will be a key determining factor of what level of support the onshore wind industry in the UK enjoys.

If the Conservative Party wins an outright majority it has pledged an end to subsidies for onshore wind; and hostility would grow further if it ends up forming a coalition with the UK Independence Party.

On the other hand, wind may benefit if the Conservatives again enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, although relations are currently fractious. And what about a victory for the Labour Party? Frankly, at present, that doesn't look like a realistic option.

This means that organisations in the renewable energy sector are looking for ways to grow community support for new wind farms.

And one such idea came out on Monday from the so-called Shared Ownership Taskforce, which is a group of renewables bodies, on the idea that developers should offer local people the chance to buy stakes in schemes.

The logic goes that offering such stakes would help developers to gain more support for their schemes, meaning that more get developed; and that local communities would get a proportion of the financial benefit of the scheme.

The taskforce has recommended that the local community be given the opportunity to own between 5% and 25% of a scheme.

In principle, community ownership of wind farms is great. It gives residents a stake in the scheme and helps to quell the objections of nimbys. Community wind projects have been built in countries including Australia, Germany, the US — and, yes, even the UK.

But the detail may mean that this plan won’t achieve its aim.

For one thing, the taskforce has advised that locals be given the opportunity to buy a stake in the wind farm when the scheme has a good chance of gaining planning consent, so that they don’t lose their money. Fair enough.

But if a scheme already has a good chance of success then it seems strange to sell stakes in it in order to win local community support. By definition, if a scheme has a good chance of success then it already has the support of the community.

It's also questionable that offering a small stake in a wind farm, potentially even as small as £5, would help garner more support for wind farms. An estimated 70% of people in the UK are in favour of having a wind farm near them, and I don’t see how the chance of owning a small stake in one would win over the other 30%.

People don’t usually invest in things they don’t like, and this won’t win over those who froth at the mouth at the mention of turbines.

If anything, such a proposal might even make developers build less. There is less reason for the developer to go through the often tortuous process of winning planning consent for their scheme if they will only end up owning 75% of the completed scheme.

So will the taskforce achieve its stated aim of making this the new norm for UK onshore wind farm ownership during 2015? In our view, there's more chance of David Cameron hugging a turbine.

The UK’s 2015 general election is now exactly six months away. The vote on 7th May 2015 will be a key determining factor of what level of support the onshore wind industry in the UK enjoys.

If the Conservative Party wins an outright majority it has pledged an end to subsidies for onshore wind; and hostility would grow further if it ends up forming a coalition with the UK Independence Party.

On the other hand, wind may benefit if the Conservatives again enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, although relations are currently fractious. And what about a victory for the Labour Party? Frankly, at present, that doesn't look like a realistic option.

This means that organisations in the renewable energy sector are looking for ways to grow community support for new wind farms.

And one such idea came out on Monday from the so-called Shared Ownership Taskforce, which is a group of renewables bodies, on the idea that developers should offer local people the chance to buy stakes in schemes.

The logic goes that offering such stakes would help developers to gain more support for their schemes, meaning that more get developed; and that local communities would get a proportion of the financial benefit of the scheme.

The taskforce has recommended that the local community be given the opportunity to own between 5% and 25% of a scheme.

In principle, community ownership of wind farms is great. It gives residents a stake in the scheme and helps to quell the objections of nimbys. Community wind projects have been built in countries including Australia, Germany, the US — and, yes, even the UK.

But the detail may mean that this plan won’t achieve its aim.

For one thing, the taskforce has advised that locals be given the opportunity to buy a stake in the wind farm when the scheme has a good chance of gaining planning consent, so that they don’t lose their money. Fair enough.

But if a scheme already has a good chance of success then it seems strange to sell stakes in it in order to win local community support. By definition, if a scheme has a good chance of success then it already has the support of the community.

It's also questionable that offering a small stake in a wind farm, potentially even as small as £5, would help garner more support for wind farms. An estimated 70% of people in the UK are in favour of having a wind farm near them, and I don’t see how the chance of owning a small stake in one would win over the other 30%.

People don’t usually invest in things they don’t like, and this won’t win over those who froth at the mouth at the mention of turbines.

If anything, such a proposal might even make developers build less. There is less reason for the developer to go through the often tortuous process of winning planning consent for their scheme if they will only end up owning 75% of the completed scheme.

So will the taskforce achieve its stated aim of making this the new norm for UK onshore wind farm ownership during 2015? In our view, there's more chance of David Cameron hugging a turbine.

The UK’s 2015 general election is now exactly six months away. The vote on 7th May 2015 will be a key determining factor of what level of support the onshore wind industry in the UK enjoys.

If the Conservative Party wins an outright majority it has pledged an end to subsidies for onshore wind; and hostility would grow further if it ends up forming a coalition with the UK Independence Party.

On the other hand, wind may benefit if the Conservatives again enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, although relations are currently fractious. And what about a victory for the Labour Party? Frankly, at present, that doesn't look like a realistic option.

This means that organisations in the renewable energy sector are looking for ways to grow community support for new wind farms.

And one such idea came out on Monday from the so-called Shared Ownership Taskforce, which is a group of renewables bodies, on the idea that developers should offer local people the chance to buy stakes in schemes.

The logic goes that offering such stakes would help developers to gain more support for their schemes, meaning that more get developed; and that local communities would get a proportion of the financial benefit of the scheme.

The taskforce has recommended that the local community be given the opportunity to own between 5% and 25% of a scheme.

In principle, community ownership of wind farms is great. It gives residents a stake in the scheme and helps to quell the objections of nimbys. Community wind projects have been built in countries including Australia, Germany, the US — and, yes, even the UK.

But the detail may mean that this plan won’t achieve its aim.

For one thing, the taskforce has advised that locals be given the opportunity to buy a stake in the wind farm when the scheme has a good chance of gaining planning consent, so that they don’t lose their money. Fair enough.

But if a scheme already has a good chance of success then it seems strange to sell stakes in it in order to win local community support. By definition, if a scheme has a good chance of success then it already has the support of the community.

It's also questionable that offering a small stake in a wind farm, potentially even as small as £5, would help garner more support for wind farms. An estimated 70% of people in the UK are in favour of having a wind farm near them, and I don’t see how the chance of owning a small stake in one would win over the other 30%.

People don’t usually invest in things they don’t like, and this won’t win over those who froth at the mouth at the mention of turbines.

If anything, such a proposal might even make developers build less. There is less reason for the developer to go through the often tortuous process of winning planning consent for their scheme if they will only end up owning 75% of the completed scheme.

So will the taskforce achieve its stated aim of making this the new norm for UK onshore wind farm ownership during 2015? In our view, there's more chance of David Cameron hugging a turbine.

The UK’s 2015 general election is now exactly six months away. The vote on 7th May 2015 will be a key determining factor of what level of support the onshore wind industry in the UK enjoys.

If the Conservative Party wins an outright majority it has pledged an end to subsidies for onshore wind; and hostility would grow further if it ends up forming a coalition with the UK Independence Party.

On the other hand, wind may benefit if the Conservatives again enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, although relations are currently fractious. And what about a victory for the Labour Party? Frankly, at present, that doesn't look like a realistic option.

This means that organisations in the renewable energy sector are looking for ways to grow community support for new wind farms.

And one such idea came out on Monday from the so-called Shared Ownership Taskforce, which is a group of renewables bodies, on the idea that developers should offer local people the chance to buy stakes in schemes.

The logic goes that offering such stakes would help developers to gain more support for their schemes, meaning that more get developed; and that local communities would get a proportion of the financial benefit of the scheme.

The taskforce has recommended that the local community be given the opportunity to own between 5% and 25% of a scheme.

In principle, community ownership of wind farms is great. It gives residents a stake in the scheme and helps to quell the objections of nimbys. Community wind projects have been built in countries including Australia, Germany, the US — and, yes, even the UK.

But the detail may mean that this plan won’t achieve its aim.

For one thing, the taskforce has advised that locals be given the opportunity to buy a stake in the wind farm when the scheme has a good chance of gaining planning consent, so that they don’t lose their money. Fair enough.

But if a scheme already has a good chance of success then it seems strange to sell stakes in it in order to win local community support. By definition, if a scheme has a good chance of success then it already has the support of the community.

It's also questionable that offering a small stake in a wind farm, potentially even as small as £5, would help garner more support for wind farms. An estimated 70% of people in the UK are in favour of having a wind farm near them, and I don’t see how the chance of owning a small stake in one would win over the other 30%.

People don’t usually invest in things they don’t like, and this won’t win over those who froth at the mouth at the mention of turbines.

If anything, such a proposal might even make developers build less. There is less reason for the developer to go through the often tortuous process of winning planning consent for their scheme if they will only end up owning 75% of the completed scheme.

So will the taskforce achieve its stated aim of making this the new norm for UK onshore wind farm ownership during 2015? In our view, there's more chance of David Cameron hugging a turbine.

The UK’s 2015 general election is now exactly six months away. The vote on 7th May 2015 will be a key determining factor of what level of support the onshore wind industry in the UK enjoys.

If the Conservative Party wins an outright majority it has pledged an end to subsidies for onshore wind; and hostility would grow further if it ends up forming a coalition with the UK Independence Party.

On the other hand, wind may benefit if the Conservatives again enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, although relations are currently fractious. And what about a victory for the Labour Party? Frankly, at present, that doesn't look like a realistic option.

This means that organisations in the renewable energy sector are looking for ways to grow community support for new wind farms.

And one such idea came out on Monday from the so-called Shared Ownership Taskforce, which is a group of renewables bodies, on the idea that developers should offer local people the chance to buy stakes in schemes.

The logic goes that offering such stakes would help developers to gain more support for their schemes, meaning that more get developed; and that local communities would get a proportion of the financial benefit of the scheme.

The taskforce has recommended that the local community be given the opportunity to own between 5% and 25% of a scheme.

In principle, community ownership of wind farms is great. It gives residents a stake in the scheme and helps to quell the objections of nimbys. Community wind projects have been built in countries including Australia, Germany, the US — and, yes, even the UK.

But the detail may mean that this plan won’t achieve its aim.

For one thing, the taskforce has advised that locals be given the opportunity to buy a stake in the wind farm when the scheme has a good chance of gaining planning consent, so that they don’t lose their money. Fair enough.

But if a scheme already has a good chance of success then it seems strange to sell stakes in it in order to win local community support. By definition, if a scheme has a good chance of success then it already has the support of the community.

It's also questionable that offering a small stake in a wind farm, potentially even as small as £5, would help garner more support for wind farms. An estimated 70% of people in the UK are in favour of having a wind farm near them, and I don’t see how the chance of owning a small stake in one would win over the other 30%.

People don’t usually invest in things they don’t like, and this won’t win over those who froth at the mouth at the mention of turbines.

If anything, such a proposal might even make developers build less. There is less reason for the developer to go through the often tortuous process of winning planning consent for their scheme if they will only end up owning 75% of the completed scheme.

So will the taskforce achieve its stated aim of making this the new norm for UK onshore wind farm ownership during 2015? In our view, there's more chance of David Cameron hugging a turbine.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.