September 19, 2013

Businessman admits he will earn £80,000-a-year from just one wind turbine as he defends plans against huge local opposition

By Sophie Jane Evans | 17 September 2013 |

A wealthy businessman has admitted he will make £80,000 a year from erecting a 150ft wind turbine – despite opposition from neighbours.

Yacht broker Harry Standley hopes to increase his income by putting up the £500,000 turbine, which locals have labelled a ‘monstrosity’.

It would join two smaller turbines already standing on his 270-acre farm in Laxfield, Suffolk.

The 70-year-old claims he is a strong believer in renewable energy and wants to help cut the country’s use of fossil fuels.

But his plan has angered residents, including former BBC royal correspondent Michael Cole, who have accused him of seeking to make money rather than save the planet.

Mr Standley said: ‘It’s my land and I am simply reacting to the Government’s renewable energy scheme – if people don’t then there will be a huge energy gap.’

The firm that will supply Mr Standley’s turbine, Mosscliff Environmental, said some owners could net as much as £100,000 a year from a single 250kW turbine that fed power directly into the National Grid.

Spokesman Jack Abbott said: ‘We would expect Mr Standley’s installation to generate him £80,000 a year.

‘The Government is trying to incentivise landowners like Mr Standley to invest in renewable energy.

‘He is helping to kick-start the renewable energy industry in this country which will in the long run help to reduce energy bills for all.’

Former BBC man Michael Cole, who was also communications director for Harrods, is one of the neighbours against the proposal.

He said: ‘This thing will be as high as the church tower and it has got nothing at all to do with green energy, reducing emissions or saving the planet – it is just about money.

‘Mr Standley will make money from selling his expensive power and we will all indirectly contribute towards his income by paying green charges on our electricity bills.

‘The Government accept that wind turbines are a blight, because they grant council tax discounts to people unfortunate enough to own properties near wind turbines.’

Local farrier Tom Knox added: ‘I have lived here for more than half a century … there is nowhere else like it in the world but now my house will be in direct sight of these ugly monstrosities.’

Wind turbine owners get paid for the electricity generated even if they use it themselves. Any excess is exported to the local grid – which they are also paid for.

Tariffs reward turbine owners with around 22p for each kWh of electricity generated and each kWh exported. A well-sited 6kW turbine can generate around 10,000kWh a year, but Mr Standley’s is far bigger.

Yesterday he defended his plans on environmental grounds, saying: ‘I believe strongly in renewable energy – we just cannot go on using fossil fuels because it is unsustainable and they pump CO2 into the air … 

‘I have been publicly vilified over my plan and there is a definite Nimby factor at work.’

Laxfield Parish Council voted six to one against the application to erect the turbine, which is expected to go before Mid Suffolk District Council before the end of the year.

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