England stands to lose over £1.3bn in investment that will directly create jobs and opportunities for local companies, funds for community activities and increased business rates for local authorities because of the actions of anti-windfarm campaigners, according to RenewableUK, the trade association for the UK's wind energy industry. The £1.3bn figure represents money that would flow directly to businesses and organisations at the local and regional level.
The investment opportunities in England are outlined in a report commissioned by RenewableUK from GL Garrard Hassan, the internationally renowned renewable energy research consultancy. The figures are based on onshore wind farm developments seeking planning consent in England at the present time, and do not include investment that has been already delivered and is ongoing for local companies across England from wind farms that are operational. The first-of-its-kind study seeks to quantify the financial benefits to England's regions of onshore wind farms.
The GL Garrad Hassan report highlights the development and investment opportunities across the UK, the capital expenditure opportunities for local companies engaged in construction, and the ongoing maintenance opportunities for local engineering companies during the lifespan of all wind farms. In addition, through plans that are under consideration by the government, renewable energy projects will be able to provide 100% of business rates payable to local authorities, and local community initiatives will be supported financially through funds agreed at part of the planning process.
The report has been released at the same time as RenewableUK publishes its annual State of the Industry report, which highlights a fall in wind farm developments being agreed at the planning stage by local authorities across the entire UK from over 50% in 2008-9 to only one in three for 2009-10.
Commenting on the report, Maria McCaffery MBE, Chief Executive of RenewableUK said:
"The UK wind energy industry is already bringing investment and jobs for local people and companies all across the country, and can deliver many more financial benefits in the years ahead. Aesthetic concerns may often be the grounds for refusal of windfarm developments at planning stage, but they can also be seen as selfish concerns when considered against the tangible benefits that wind energy can bring, not only for the benefit of the environment but just as importantly for local jobs and funds for investment, ongoing for the entire lifespan of a wind farm development. By halting developments, anti-windfarm campaigners are doing their local communities a disservice, and one that no-one can afford in these difficult economic times".