Wind energy policy at the European, national and

Wind Energy:
Responding to Controversy & Barriers
Ruby Hammer,
LL.B.(Hons), LL.M. in Critical Legal Studies,
Senior Law Lecturer,
Member of RETS Research Team & Centre for
Applied Business Research
Staffordshire University Law School
Welcome and Overview of Session
1. Introduction: The Future of Energy?
2. EU Energy Policy & Renewables Update
2. The UK Wind Industry: Facts and Figures
3. Offshore Wind - A UK Success Story
4. Generic Problems
5. Onshore Wind – Controversy & Barriers
7. Case Studies: Charles Lequesne, RPS Group
8. Group Activity & Discussion
The location and construction of wind
turbines generates a high level of controversy
and often well organised local opposition.
Within the UK, there is a discrepancy
between the public’s apparent desire for
renewable energy and the slow rate at which
new generating capacity is commissioned.
This workshop seeks to examine the above
issues and will commence with an overview
of the regulation of wind energy in the EU &
UK and explore how conflict and opposition
might be resolved.
The Future of Renewable Energy: The Facts
The International Energy
Agency predicts that energy
usage will double by 2030.[1]
However, climate change
science indicates that we
need to reduce emissions of
CO2 and other greenhouse
gases by at least 60% by
2050 to avert climate
change disaster.[2]
A vital component of the
EU Energy policy is the
intention to provide a 20%
share of energy from
renewable sources in the
EU energy mix.
The Future of EU Energy: Facts & Figures
In real terms, the overall share of renewable energy
in the EU energy mix has risen steadily to some 10%
of gross final energy consumption during 2008.[3]
By 2009, 62% of newly installed electricity generation
capacity in the EU was from renewable sources,
mainly wind and solar.[4]
The majority of renewable energy is converted into
electricity and because renewable resources cannot
be controlled in the same way as fossil fuels, EU
energy policy is increasingly focusing on the way in
which power systems are designed and operated
both regionally and across member states. Energy
from wind will continue to occupy a significant place
in the energy mix of the EU.
EU Policy: Energy 2020
European Energy Policy focuses upon energy security, sustainability and competitiveness
and the new EU energy strategy, Energy 2020[7] focuses on five priorities:
Achieving energy
efficiency in Europe
Strengthening the
external dimension
of the EU energy
Extending Europe’s
leadership in energy
technology and
Building a panEuropean integrated
consumers and
achieving high level
of safety & security
The Renewable Energy Directive 2009
The Renewables Directive (2009/28/EC)
The Directive addresses a number of issues relating to renewable energies
within the EU including the legally binding share of renewable energy in gross
final energy consumption. RE share of energy mix to rise to 20% by 2020 (UK
has 15% target).
In particular, Article 4 requires member states to produce a National Renewable
Energy Action Plan (NREAP) by the end of June, 2010. EU countries are free to
decide their own preferred 'mix' of renewables, allowing them to take account
of their different potentials. In UK, wind power forms an integral part of the UK
energy mix.
The directive set a series of interim targets, known as 'indicative trajectories', in
order to ensure steady progress towards the 2020 targets.
Monitoring & Enforcement
A compromise agreement rejected a regime
whereby member states would have faced financial
penalties for failing to reach interim targets
towards the 2020 goal.
The Commission, however, reserves the right to
enact infringement proceedings if states do not
take 'appropriate measures' towards their targets,
meaning the decision to take legal action will be at
the Commission's discretion.
2009 Directive: Progress to Date
By 1st February, 2011 all 27 Member States had submitted a National Renewable
Energy Plan (NREAP).
The ECN (Energy Research Network of the Netherlands) has collected all data from
the NREAP documents.[5] This has resulted in four products being available:
– A full data report integrating and aggregating where possible data from the individual
– A summary of the above report, mainly containing the data tables
– A database: all data from the published NREAP documents are available in a database.
– A set of figures: all figures from the data report are available as separate image files.
Energy Policy: Time to Act
EU Summit 4th February, 2011
Four commitments to provide competitive, sustainable
and secure energy for Europe:
• Complete the internal energy market by 2014
• No Member State an energy island after 2015
• Boost energy efficiency initiatives
• Greater coordination of EU external energy policy
On 31 January, 2011, the EU Commission presented its
Communication "Renewable Energy: Progressing towards
the 2020 target“ which indicates that the 2020 renewable
energy policy goals are likely to be met and exceeded if
Member States fully implement their national renewable
energy action plans and if financing instruments are
Wind Energy Regulation in the UK
In addition to complying with the Renewable Energy Directive, renewable electricity
generation in the UK has increased significantly since 2002 when the Renewables
Obligation was introduced.
The Renewables Obligation requires all licensed electricity suppliers in England and
Wales to supply a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources, and
provides financial incentives for them to do so. Suppliers obtain what are known as
ROCs – renewable energy certificates.
suppliers obliged
to source 10% of
supply from
In 2004, this
obligation was
extended to 15%
of electricity
supply by 2015.
At the end of 2007,
around 5 percent of
the UK’s total
electricity came from
renewable sources
(4.9 percent from RO
eligible sources),
compared to just 1.8
percent in 2002..
Onshore Wind: Financial Incentives
The introduction of the Feed-in-Tariff System (FITS) has undoubtedly encouraged many
developers and landowners to seek land suitable for wind turbines.
FITS was introduced on 1st April, 2010 (see Feed-in Tariffs (Specified Maximum Capacity
and Functions) Order 2010. FITS are payments made to renewable energy generators
via the licensed Electricity Supply Companies.
FITS are comprised of:
- a Generation Tariff which is paid according to how much electricity is generated
- an Export Tariff which is paid for any electricity which is imported to the grid.
Tariffs only paid on renewable generation sites up to 5MW and an installation cannot
claim FITS and ROCs.
FITS payments are guaranteed, at a fixed payment rate (Index-linked) for 20 years for
wind and 25 years for solar (FITS also applies to anaerobic digestion and hydro projects).
Wind Energy in the UK
At the end of 2007, around 5 percent of the UK’s total
electricity came from renewable sources (4.9 percent
from RO eligible sources), compared to just 1.8 percent in
More recently, the Department of Energy & Climate
Change (DECC) (December, 2010) show that statistics for
Quarter 3 of 2010 demonstrate the biggest ever
contribution from renewables to the UK's electricity
supply standing at 8.6%.
Wind is the single biggest contributor to renewable
energy supply and the statistics also show that
contribution from wind has risen by a massive 37%
compared to same quarter in 2009.
Wind Projects in the UK
Interactive Map of Renewables and Alternative Energy Projects in UK
(offshore/onshore as at 22nd February, 2011)
226 Onshore
11 Offshore
38 Onshore
11 Offshore
In Planning
321 Onshore
10 Offshore
Offshore Wind: A UK Success Story?
Latest offshore wind statistics, released by the European Wind Energy Association
(EWEA), confirm that the United Kingdom is the European and world sector leader .
How is offshore wind regulated? Who owns the seabeds? The Crown Estate (CE), a
public body regulated by the Crown Estate Act 1961. Not part of the Government but
works closely with government and statutory bodies. CE own seabeds up to 12 nautical
miles from shore.
The Crown Estate have pursued a series of leasing rounds under which areas of seabed
have been made available for the development of offshore wind farms.
Round 1 aimed to cater for demonstration scale projects of up to 30 turbines with the
selection of sites largely driven by developers. Eighteen sites were awarded, totalling a
combined capacity of up to 1.5 GW.[9]
Rounds 2 & 3: UK Offshore Wind
Round 2:
Three strategic areas were identified for development and a strategic environmental
assessment (SEA) was carried out for these areas, (the Greater Wash, the Thames
Estuary and Liverpool Bay in the northwest).
Round 2 Implementation:
During July, 2003 the Crown Estate (CE) announced a competitive tender process for
commercial scale Round 2 sites. Fifteen successful projects were awarded Crown Estate
agreements for leases which amounted to 7.2 GW and included sites within and beyond
territorial waters.
Round 3:
CE used spatial planning to identify nine development zones for which developers could
bid. In parallel to the bidding process, the government carried out a further SEA for
offshore energy. Once awarded, each of the nine zones will be managed by a single
development partner (company or consortium) who will oversee development of the
Offshore Wind: Case Study
Thanet Offshore Wind Farm
Vattenfall acquired the Thanet Offshore
Wind Farm project in November 2008.
Construction was completed September
2010. There are 100 Vestas V90 wind
turbines that have a total capacity of 300
MW. This is sufficient to supply more
than 200,000 homes per year with clean
Currently, it is the largest operational
offshore wind farm anywhere in the world.
It will make a significant contribution to the
Government’s national and regional
renewable energy targets.
Offshore Wind: Regional Impact?
What can we learn? Pause for Reflection
Success of offshore wind will create many
opportunities in the supply chain and should
not be regarded as having no relevance to
business, developers and planners within
onshore regions. Also, opportunity to exchange
and learn from offshore ‘best practice’.
Wind Energy: Generic Problems
Intermittency &
Wind Variability
Financing of Projects
Public Perception
& Opinion
Domestic Planning Barriers &
Grid Connections
Considerations: Feasibility
Before attempting to deal with planning issues, a potential developer will need to assess
the 'feasibility' of any potential application for onshore wind. 3 key issues arise in this
Assessment and calculation of wind speed . This can be done either by using the
Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) wind speed database or installing
an anemometer mast to assess wind speed over set period of time.
Assessment of the distance to nearest national grid connection point and evaluation of
A developer will also need to ensure that there are suitable access roads to the site or
evaluate the potential cost of building them.
Wind Turbines & Scoping
If a project appears viable, a developer can move to the second stage in project delivery
which is known as scoping. Scoping involves consultation with the various parties that
have a significant influence over the outcome of a proposed project. Below is a list of
key organisations whom a developer should consult at an early stage:
MOD and the Civil Aviation Authority:
To assess potential interference of project with radar.
Local Planning Authority:
Where the LPA determines your scheme planning officers and the local planning policy
need to be consulted early.
Local Community Groups: Research indicates that community support and involvement
is essential to planning for wind energy. This is an area which needs the development of
‘good practice’ as will be seen later.
Environmental Impact Assessment
Any planning application for wind turbines will
involve design and location considerations, but in
particular will entail an Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA).
An EIA is a detailed assessment of all the local
environmental data taking account of some of the
following considerations:
- Wildlife species types, movements and numbers;
- Distance to the nearest dwelling/road;
- Nature conservation areas;
- Landscape conservation areas and other land
designations such as greenbelt.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The EIA will also need to address a number of visual issues:
- height and width of blades
- visual impact of access roads and hard standing
- Flicker from blades
Noise and proximity to dwellings will also be considered and increasingly
developers are finding interference with telecommunications problematic .
There will often be a number of local constraints found in other relevant policies
such as green belt, conservation areas, ecological assets, protection
of special landscape areas, national parks.
Planning Policy & Renewables
PPS22 Planning Policy Statement on
Renewable Energy (July 2004) provides a
concise planning framework for such
developments and 'encourages local
authorities to take account of the positive
benefits of renewable when considering
PPS22 is accompanied by a Companion Guide,
which discusses the planning and development
of renewable energy schemes across England.
Planning & Climate Change
Also important to renewable energy developments is
the supplement to PPS1, Planning and Climate Change
– Supplement to Planning Policy 1, which takes
precedence over other's in the PPS series and sets out
how planning, in providing for the new homes, jobs and
infrastructure needed by communities, should help
shape places with lower carbon emissions and
resilience to climate change.
This policy moves towards wider networks and
neighbourhood-scale decentralised energy sources, it
places a stronger emphasis on developers and local
authorities to consider onsite renewables for all new
developments, and it provides more robust guidance
for the handling of renewable energy planning
Case Study: Carsington Water
Carsington Wind Energy Ltd applied to local authority
to build 4 wind turbines, access tracks and ancillary
substation. The proposed site overlooked Carsington
Water, a large area open to the public and used for
variety of tourism and leisure activities. Situated on
boundary of the Peak District National Park.
After great opposition, planning permission refused
by Derbyshire Dales DC. Carsington Wind Energy Ltd
Public Inquiry held and in 2008, Planning Inspector
allowed appeal and granted planning permission
subject to conditions. The proposed development
expected to generate power for 5,500 homes.
Carsington Water: Judicial Review
Peak District National Park Authority and Derbyshire Dales DC decided to challenge
inspector’s decision by way of judicial review. The appeal had related to 5 main issues:
1. Impact of the proposal on the character and surrounding appearance of the
2. Impact of proposal on settings of Carsington and Hopton villages as well as Brassington
conservation areas.
3. Effects of the proposal on public enjoyment of the countryside.
4. Whether as a matter of law and policy, there was a requirement to consider
alternative sites.
5. Contribution that the proposals would make to achieving regional and national targets
for renewable energy generation.
Judicial review limited to points 4 and 5: ‘alternative sites issue’ and ‘strategic targets’
Carsington Water: The Decision
Alternative Sites:
No positive legal obligation for inspector to
consider alternative sites – left as a matter of
planning judgement on the facts of any case.
Strategic Targets Issue:
Inspector had commented...”An approach which
sought to keep individual planning applications
and regional targets entirely separate would be
irrational not only in terms of Government’s aim
of securing substantially more renewable energy
generation capacity but also of the whole basis of
the plan-led system”
High Court found no
‘error of law’ in
reasoning and
application was
However...Planning & Public Opinion
A study carried out by Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
(BERR) in 2008 indicated 83-85% of the population were in principle in favour of
renewable energy.[11]
However, between 2007 and 2009 approval rates for below 50 MW onshore planning
applications in England were shown to drop from 57% to a mere 29% at first instance
decision level.[11] Despite the above approval for RE, it is clear that effective organised
opposition at a local level is inhibiting chances of wind applications and causing delays.
Bell (, 2005)[12] suggests 3 explanations for such a discrepancy:
Qualified Support
(Not in My
Community Engagement
Jones & Eiser comment:
“Identifying the qualifications that people place
upon their general support for wind, should help
developers not only select more appropriate (i.e.
less controversial) sites but also generate more
appropriate community benefit packages that
readily address the actual (as opposed to
perceived) concerns of host communities.”[13]
Research conducted by Jones & Eiser demonstrates
that early (pre-application) and continued
involvement of host communities is essential.
One of the main concerns is perceived visual
impact and anticipated visibility.
Deliberative Planning Strategies
Need to
announce &
Deliberative –
bottom-up strategy
communities to show
developers what
would be acceptable
The Way Forward
There is a real need to develop survey measures that
more accurately register the ‘caveats’ which members of
the public place on renewable energy technology. Also a
need to understand the rationale for such caveats - is
greater education and awareness of options/benefits of
RE required?
Wind projects should be designed with community
engagement strategies and recognise the importance of
dealing with anticipated visibility concerns. For example,
planning roadshows with artist’s impressions, CGI
simulations, zones of theoretical proximity (ZTPs).
Weight of evidence clearly points to the importance of
early, sustained and reciprocal communication between
Impact of Localism Bill?
The Localism Bill currently proceeding through parliament will allow councils,
communities and individuals a much greater say in planning decisions, raising
the prospect of more intense battles between developers and local groups
opposed to projects such as wind farms.
One of the biggest changes contained in the bill are new rules allowing for local
referendums where people, councillors and councils can instigate a vote on any
local issue, including planning proposals.
The results of any referendum must be taken into account by decision-making
public authorities and will increase pressure on planners to block projects that are
unpopular at a local level.
The above measures could have negative effects for wind project proposals but
could also offer possibilities for mobilising support, democratic dialogue and
ultimately support for RE projects.
Industry Protocol & Benefits
During February, 2011, in conjunction with the government, the wind industry accepted
a protocol on payments from wind farms to community benefit funds (at the moment
applies to England only).
The Protocol specifies a £1,000 minimum payment per year per megawatt of installed
wind power. The decision on how the funds will be allocated will be determined by the
community living in the vicinity of the wind farm.
The Protocol will ensure wind farm planning applications for projects with a capacity of
5MW or more are accompanied by a commitment to community funds or benefits.
Those funds will be in addition to government plans to allow local communities to keep
business rates paid by onshore wind farms in England.
The industry hopes the formalised payment will reduce opposition to wind farms from
organised anti-wind farm groups and unlock projects currently tied up in the planning
Discussion & Activity
In 4-5 small groups, consider the following:
- How can community engagement be taken forward?
Will the Localism Bill create an opportunity or
- What mechanisms can RE developers use to encourage
community support/engagement for wind projects?
Jonathon Porritt in Freris, L. And Infield, D. Renewable Energy in Power Systems (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2008).Freris,
L. And Infield, D. Renewable Energy in Power Systems (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2008).
see Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change Reports at:
Energy 2020: A Strategy for Competititve, Sustainable and Secure Energy. [accessed online on 12.12.2010 at:]
Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands at:
Energy 2020: A Strategy for Competititve, Sustainable and Secure Energy. Op.cit.
British Wind Energy Association, Briefing Sheet, Wind and the UK's 10% Target, at: [accessed online
'91 per cent growth for UK wind energy employment', 1 February 2011,
[accessed online on 10.02.2011 at:]
Jones, C.R., & Eiser, J.R., Understanding ‘local’ opposition to wind development in the UK: How big is a backyard?
Energy Policy (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2010.01.051
BERR, 2008. Renewable energy awareness and attitudes research. Management summary: June 2008. Department of
Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, London. []
Bell, D., Gray, T., Haggett, C., (2005) ‘The ‘social gap’ in wind farm siting decisions: explanations and policy responses.
Environmental Politics 14, 460-477.
See Jones & Eiser, op cit.