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United Kingdom

RWE warns over English onshore projects

UK: RWE said the politicization of English onshore wind due to the increased intervention by Communities and Local Government secretary Eric Pickles was unsustainable.

RWE's 59.8MW Little Cheyne Court project in southern England
RWE's 59.8MW Little Cheyne Court project in southern England

RWE stressed the focus is on England and the planning landscape in Wales and Scotland is much easier to work with.

RWE Innogy COO Paul Coffey said, "We won't be throwing our hands up in the air and saying well that is the end of everything in the UK regarding onshore wind.

"But for sure England is at risk unless something changes, either because we change it or its changed from a policy perspective."

Research by Planning magazine shows Pickles made a decision on 28 recovered appeals involving onshore wind in 2014. In 2013 he only made four of these decisions.

Of the 28 wind appeals decided by Pickles in 2014, 25 were rejected with the refused applications containing plans for 100 turbines.

The analysis showed that 11 of the 25 dismissed appeals (44%) were refused against planning inspectors' recommendations. If Pickles had accepted the advice, he would have approved 61 turbines in 2014 rather than 11, the findings suggest.

"If this is to be sustained then onshore wind cannot happen, and everything that's associated with that is gone," Coffey added.

To combat the current political landscape, RWE are planning a scheme to allow locals to invest into a project, with a pilot scheme expected to take place in summer 2014.

Mike Parker, RWE head of onshore wind in the UK, also called for a small change in planning regulations to allow higher tip heights. By allowing larger turbines, it would mean greater energy yield at a lower cost and fewer turbines, he argued.

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