Royals’ £1m wind farm hypocrisy: 45 wind turbines described by Charles as a ‘horrendous blot’ to be built on Crown land
The Royal Family could soon be cashing in on dozens of wind turbines – even though they have been condemned by Prince Charles and Prince Philip.
Energy firms have been given the green light for 45 windmills on Crown Estate land, which will rake in £1million a year in subsidies.
Last night, those who will live next door to the wind farms in Wales and Lincolnshire accused the Royal Family of hypocrisy, after the Prince of Wales described them as a ‘horrendous blot on the landscape’ while his father called them ‘useless’ and ‘a disgrace’.
The Crown Estate, a £7billion land and property portfolio, is run by independent trustees, but from next year the Royal Family will be living off its profits as a result of sweeping changes to their finances.
It has agreed to lease land to energy firm RES for 15 turbines at Bryn Llywelyn in Carmarthenshire, to German firm RWE for another four at Neuadd Goch in Powys, both of which are awaiting planning approval, and to E.on for 17 at Billingborough in Lincolnshire, which is under public consultation.
Campaign groups have sprung up in opposition to the proposals.
Michael King, chairman of Billingborough parish council, said turbines would be 700 yards from homes.
‘This is very hypocritical,’ he said. ‘There’s real resentment here and people have written letters to Prince Charles. He doesn’t have it on his doorstep.
‘What’s worse is that we feel the Royal estate have really been the agents provocateurs in this, asking the energy companies to come on board, not the other way around.’
Pub landlord John Jones, 66, who set up the campaign group Save Llanllwni Mountain to fight the Bryn Llywellyn proposals, said: ‘The developers have much more money than us and a far greater say, and the Royals are happy to take the subsidies even though they’ve never come out here and seen the mountain for themselves.’
In Powys, Gordon Dibbs, 73, bought and renovated his country cottage after retiring from a career in publishing, only to be told a turbine would be placed just 800 yards from his front door.
He said: ‘This is the most beautiful view you could have and they want to spoil our countryside with these gigantic windmills.’
The Crown Estate has already allowed RWE to build nine turbines on its land at Little Cheyne Court on Romney Marsh in Kent. It is the UK’s largest onshore wind farm.
It is unclear who is leading the drive to install turbines, but a spokesman confirmed that Prince Andrew met Crown Estate officers in September to discuss his interest in renewable energy, including wind power.
Last year the Duke of Edinburgh attacked onshore wind farms during a frank exchange with the boss of a wind farm company.
He said they were ‘absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace’, claiming they would never work and would need back-up capacity.
The Prince of Wales is reported to regard wind turbines as a ‘horrendous blot on the landscape’.
He was quoted by an unnamed official in 2004, although he is a passionate environmentalist and interested in other forms of renewable energy.
Although he has never stated his opposition publicly, there are no wind farms on his own vast estate, the Duchy of Cornwall.
The proposed wind farms will bring in around £20million a year for the operators and £1million a year to the Crown Estate.
The Sovereign Support Act, to be implemented next year, changes the way members of the Royal Family are funded, replacing the 250-year-old Civil List with a system whereby they will live off around 15 per cent of the Crown Estate’s income. This sum will be around £34million next year.
The Estate, which posted annual profits of £231million last year, is one of the most coveted property portfolios in the world and includes interests from remote beef farms to shops and businesses in London’s West End.
A spokesman for the Prince of Wales denied he was acting hypocritically and said that the Royal Family played no part in the running of the Crown Estate.
He said: ‘The vast majority of the Prince’s official costs are met out of his private income from the Duchy of Cornwall.’
A spokesman for Prince Andrew said of the meeting last year: ‘It was a routine catch-up – the Duke sees renewables as an important opportunity for the UK.’
Robert Norris of wind trade group Renewable UK said: ‘Everyone benefits from wind energy – not just the Royal Family. Home-grown wind power means we don’t have to import fossil fuels from abroad.’
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