Onshore wind companies are avoiding their public responsibility by setting up shell companies which do not have enough assets to ever pay out damages if they are successfully sued for noise pollution, an MP has said.
Tory David Davis, Howden and Haltemprice MP, said wind farm companies should therefore be required to hold enough cash and an insurance policy to ensure that they can pay out to residents who suffer as a result of their operation.
If they fail to do this their public subsidy – £797 million in total for the industry every year – should be removed, the Haltemprice and Howden MP said.
This would also give onshore companies an incentive to operate farms in a way that does not cause public nuisance, whether it is high noise levels or a “strobe effect” of light when the sun is low behind a turbine, he added.
Moving his Public Nuisance from Wind Farms (Mandatory Liability Cover) Bill under a ten-minute rule motion, Mr Davis said: “The simple solution that this Bill proposes is to require wind farm operating companies to hold enough cash in hand to manage a legal case at any time and in addition a financial bond – a guarantee, or insurance policy – as a security against potential liabilities, including all public nuisance and final decommissioning costs.
“Any wind farm that fails to do so should lose its right to subsidy, which as I said amounted to £797 million in one year for the industry.
“This would ensure that citizens could reasonably sue when they suffer damage.
“But just as important frankly, it would be a strong incentive for the companies themselves to operate wind farms in such a way as to avoid public nuisance that’s causing such distress in some cases.
“And then when the turbines are decommissioned there is money or insurance to cover the cost of clearing the wind farm, avoiding a situation where a local council has to pick up the bill.
“Whatever your stance on onshore wind, companies in receipt of public subsidy should be required to meet their public responsibilities.
“This measure seeks to ensure the big wind farm companies can truly be held liable when they are at fault and give families the protection they deserve.”
The Bill has support from Conservative, Labour and DUP MPs and its second reading is scheduled for September 11.
It is unlikely to make progress without Government support due to a lack of parliamentary time.