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A wind farm proposed for Northumberland could be worth more than £12million a year to its developers, objectors have claimed.
Opponents to the Middlemoor scheme near Alnwick say it will generate “colossal” amounts of money for npower renewables, most of it through green subsidies footed by electricity bill-payers.
As the public inquiry into the 18-turbine scheme continued this week, with two days of site visits on Tuesday and Wednesday, its critics went on the offensive over the massive revenues associated with the project.
New Etal farmer Andrew Joicey, who is a member of North Northumberland campaign group Save Our Unspoiled Landscape (Soul), said over its 25-year life-span, income would equate to more than £300million for that single wind farm.
The figures, he said, were based on current electricity wholesale prices and subsidies.
“Once anyone is properly aware of the sheer size of the real figures involved in any wind farm proposal, mostly derived from subsidies, it suddenly becomes clear why the likes of npower are desperate to get consent for wind farms like Middlemoor,” he said.
“The staggering level of income that can be obtained from operating a wind farm explains why they are able to offer rental payments to landowners at levels unmatched by virtually any other enterprise on the land.
“We understand that between £5,000 to £10,000 per turbine per year was about the going rate when this proposal would have been negotiated. However, the rent to the landowner is just a small fraction – maybe two per cent of the wind farm’s total financial income.”
Mr Joicey said planning permission alone for a 60 megawatt site of about 20 turbines was worth an estimated £70million on the market.
Npower, he said, is believed to be budgeting £250,000 to cover their costs at the public inquiry.
He added: “The truth is there is a colossal amount of money riding on getting that planning permission, even allowing for the building and financing and rent and running costs.
“You can begin to see why operators are prepared to pay what may appear to be extraordinary prices for planning consent.”
But npower renewables Regional Development Manager Clare Wilson says the figures don’t reflect the bigger picture.
“There are very mixed messages coming from those who oppose wind farms,” she said.
29 November 2007
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