Plans for farmers and landowners to have wind turbines placed on their land free of charge have been branded “desperate” by campaigners in Shropshire.
Xzeres Wind Europe, based in Birmingham, and PassiM Developments Ltd, from Scotland, want to build turbines across the country free of charge to the owners, while also giving them free electricity and a share of the income to those who sign up.
Both companies say they will make money by selling the energy on to the National Grid, but the move has been criticised by anti-wind farm campaigners locally.
Dr Chris Douglas, of Stop Bridgnorth Wind Farm campaign group, which is fighting plans for five turbines in the town, warned the countryside could be ruined forever.
Dr Douglas, who lives at Morville, near the town, said: “This smacks of desperation and reveals the lengths that developers will go to in order to achieve their aims.
“This is no more or less than an added bribe, but of course it’s not the developers themselves who will be footing the financial incentive.
“In the end, the bill will be picked up by consumers who are already bearing a heavy financial burden for the absurd subsidies which are being handed to developers.
“Unless we are very careful, beautiful rural areas across the UK will be littered with single turbines – and we won’t be able to rectify the damage caused until it’s too late.
“It’s hard to envisage developers rushing to remove the turbines they have erected if and when they have been decommissioned.”
The two companies behind the scheme say clients capable of hosting one or two 10kW turbines will have them provided free of charge with planning and connection costs also met by them.
They will have all of their electricity needs met free-of-charge for the 20-year duration of the contract along with an annual ground rent of up to £1,000. Maintenance and decommissioning costs will also be met by the companies.
Robert Schiller, managing director of PassiM, said he aims to have completed deals with around 100 landowners across the UK by the end of the year.
He added: “At the moment, the best landowners and communities can hope for is to be offered reduced price electricity or a share of the income from a turbine or turbines. We are offering both.
“Under the business model agreed with Xzeres, clients will have no financial or investment obligations. All they need to do is to provide the land upon which the turbine will be situated.
“No-one has done this before in this market, as far as we are aware, and we are confident it will prove popular. Each turbine costs £60,000 and planning and connection costs are a further £5000 so it’s a significant investment on our part.”
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