08:27 Thursday 6th June 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: Now let’s return to our main story this morning, Peterborough City Council’s plans to build a green energy park using both solar and wind turbines. But the whole project could be thrown into disarray this morning after the Government announced it wants to give local residents more power to block onshore wind farms. The new guidelines say that national targets for green energy shouldn’t automatically override the views of local communities. If these guidelines are approved, it could be disastrous for Peterborough City Council, because it’s budgeting on the wind farm aspect of the energy park making nearly four times as much profit as the solar panel part. So without wind, the project will only make around £30 million, and not the £140 million that the Council are banking on. By that take then, they’d have to invest £400 million to get back £30 million, if they don’t get the wind turbines. That’s what we’re saying here.Well here to tell us more about the new guidelines is our business guru Yuan Potts. Morning Yuan.
YUAN POTTS: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: This is going to certainly throw Peterborough City Council’s plans a bit of a spanner, isn’t it?
YUAN POTTS: Yes. Well it’s a very controversial issue, and particularly it sounds (so) in Peterborough with these plans. A lot of jobs hanging in the balance. What the Government is hoping to do with these new proposals is to balance the demands of some local communities who don’t want these wind turbines with the demands for green energy to be produced at a national level. And the proposals are something of a carrot and stick approach. So the carrot, they’d be getting local companies to give more money to communities, something like £100,000 for a medium sized wind farm. And the stick, well that will allow local communities to oppose these schemes. So the Government is to say that national targets musn’t override the views of local communities. So it will be interesting to see how that plays out in Peterborough.
PAUL STAINTON: Is there any detail there on how local communities are going to be able to stop these plans?
YUAN POTTS: Well for instance they said that local councils will be able to factor in things like the distance between existing wind turbine schemes and new schemes. They’ll be able to look at things like the effect on landscape and amenities. So they’ll be able to take a lot more things into consideration if they want to oppose these schemes.
PAUL STAINTON: And who would have the final say? Would it still be the local council?
YUAN POTTS: Well there’s always a process with planning for things to be referred upwards, and that will continue. So controversial planning projects can often end up being referred up. Finally .. the final say often stays with the Secretary of State.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes, because here we’ve got the local council with plans to put wind farms on the land, and they will then approve those plans, possibly. So that situation, at the moment that will continue?
YUAN POTTS: Yes. It’s interesting what you were saying about the mix of the Peterborough scheme between solar and wind, because wind power, onshore wind power is by far the cheapest form of green electricity that we have in this country. We’re a pretty windy nation. East Anglia certainly has its fair share of wind. And even in the sunnier parts of the UK, sadly there’s not really that much sun to generate cheap solar electricIty. And solar panels, PV panels, are still quite expensive.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Do we know when these guidelines might come in?
YUAN POTTS: Well it’s not quite clear yet. This is actually the result of a long process of consultation, so the Government did put these plans out to consultation last year, and they’ve announced them today. So we’re expecting them to come in pretty soon. But it seems like these are fairly concrete. There’s been a lot of discussion in the Government, balancing some demands from the LibDem side for more green energy with some people on the Conservatrive side, particularly back bench MPs representing rural areas, who’ve said that actually we don’t really want these things on our patch.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. It’s going to be very interesting for Peterborough if these new guidelines do come in. Arthur says. “Very interesting programme this morning Paul. I’ve heard most of it. Regarding the solar panel farm costs, have they made any mention of the EU applying special tariffs on solar panels from China? They’ve enacted anti-dumping legislation in the last week. This could seriously affect the Peterborough Council business case too.” Thank you Arthur.