Recent policy changes by the UK government have spurred the developers of the Nocton Fen wind farm to pull the plug on their project. The new government policy accelerated a planned end to wind farm subsidies, setting an end date of April 2016, and added a requirement that all wind projects receive approval by nearby residents via a local or neighborhood plan.
In response to these changes, Swedish wind developer Vattenfall held a six-week local consultation, and this week announced it would not proceed with the project:
Graham Davey, Vattenfall’s Project Manager for the Nocton Fen Wind Energy Project, said: “It’s obviously disappointing to stop development of Nocton Fen as it would have delivered significant benefit locally and generated affordable, clean and renewable energy for tens of thousands of homes every year.
“It was clear that proposed changes to onshore wind planning in England introduced increased risk in the process. Stopping the scheme now is a sensible decision.
North Kesteven District Council Leader, Councillor Marion Brighton OBE, spoke for the locals, saying, “We welcome Vattenfall’s decision and appreciate them making this announcement so soon after the close of their recent statutory pre-application engagement. Their proposals would have been unreasonably intrusive in terms of the landscape character and amenity of local communities and I am sure that this decision not to proceed will be of significant comfort in bringing clarity on Vattenfall’s position in light of the Government’s recent policy announcements.”
This particular wind farm would have been built on the estate of vacuum cleaner tycoon James Dyson, and had raised local ire from the start due to its proximity to a local landmark, the Lincoln Cathedral; the turbines would be twice its height. “Lincoln Cathedral defines the landscape for miles in each direction,” said Melvin Grosvenor, who lives in the village of Baumber, 10 miles west of the proposed site. “This [wind farm] would spoil the long-distance view that has existed for a thousand years and change the character of the whole area.”
There are currently 250 wind farm proposals, totaling 2500 turbines, that may be similarly affected by the policy changes; time will tell whether the UK’s on-shore wind industry grinds to a halt, or adapts and finds a way forward. It’s unclear from recent reports whether the loss of subsidies is deal-killer for wind developers, or whether some projects may be viable without subsidies, if they are far enough from neighbors to gain local support.