United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Government eases deadlock

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The site permitting deadlock which has trapped around 100 wind and other renewable energy projects in Britain's troublesome planning system is to be eased. The government will now allow developers to transfer projects with power purchase contracts won under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) from sites that failed to secure consents to alternative locations.

Stalled projects such as National Wind Power's proposed £12 million 15 MW High Moor wind farm in County Durham might now proceed elsewhere. Until now the site-specific terms of NFFO contracts have prevented developers from negotiating more acceptable sites with planners or from trying again in a different local authority area.

Developers will be able to seek alternative sites anywhere in England and Wales. But any move is conditional on them having sought and been refused planning permission for the old site and obtaining consents for the new site. The Department of Trade and Industry will effect the change through secondary legislation.

Unless the renewables build rate dramatically improves, the government will fail to meet its targets of 5% of UK electricity from renewables by 2003 (requiring some 1500 MW of declared net capacity) and 10% by 2010. Of a total 3638 MW DNC of NFFO contracts awarded in the UK, just 855 MW had been commissioned by September 2000.

Energy minister Peter Hain is optimistic, however. "New freedom for NFFO projects, combined with the introduction of regional strategies and targets ensures that renewables projects can be brought on stream more rapidly while still paying closer attention to local concerns."

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