August 19, 2011

Samantha Cameron’s father nets £350,000 a year from subsidised wind farm

By Chris Brooke, Mail Online, 19 August 2011

David Cameron’s wealthy father-in-law is making almost £350,000 a year from a publicly-subsidised wind farm on his country estate.

Sir Reginald Sheffield, who is said to be worth £20million, earns the sum in ‘rent’ from the consortium behind the farm – just for having the turbines on his land.

The 65-year-old calls it a ‘modest’ fraction of the estimated £3.5million the eight 400ft-high turbines generate each year.

They were switched on two years ago at Bagmoor Farm, part of the 3,000-acre Normanby Hall estate near Scunthorpe that has been in his aristocratic family since the 16th century.

With the turbines expected to last about 25 years, Sir Reginald’s estate is likely to earn at least £8million in total.

Samantha Cameron’s father revealed the extent of his estate’s wind farm earnings in a letter to the Spectator magazine.

He said the rent was ‘modest’, and amounted to ‘less than one tenth’ of £3.5million a year.

Defending his earnings and the wind farm scheme, Sir Reginald wrote: ‘The income generated by the rental has enabled us to turn some redundant farm buildings into a flourishing riding school and helped to rebuild our cricket pavilion, which had been burned down by vandals.

‘I quite realise that many people do not like wind turbines, but the planning permission for the turbines at Bagmoor had very little local opposition and was passed by North Lincolnshire planning committee without recourse to a planning inquiry.’

But he is already facing fierce protests over a second development of six 400ft turbines planned at another of his properties, the nearby Flixborough Grange.

The scheme, which involves the same company, RidgeWind, is likely to earn the landowner more than £200,000 a year in rent, bringing his total wind farm earnings to £500,000 annually.

Wind farms are heavily subsidised by Government cash under a scheme introduced by Labour to promote renewable energy. It has been criticised for benefiting wealthy landowners.

Sir Reginald, an Old Etonian who lists his recreations as shooting and stalking, is the eighth holder of a baronetcy that goes back to 1755 and is a direct descendant of Charles II.

The Prime Minister’s wife is the elder of his two daughters by his first marriage.

The baronet could not be contacted yesterday.

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