Wind farm decision could cost council thousands

A Whitehall decision to call in plans for the largest onshore wind farm in England could cost the local council hundreds of thousands of pounds, it has emerged.

The Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed earlier this week it has called in the proposed extension of the Scout Moor Wind Farm in Lancashire.

Public Sector Energy reported in September that Rossendale Borough Council had approved plans to add a further 14 wind turbines to the wind farm, which originally opened in 2008.

According to the wind farm’s owners, the new proposals will generate renewable energy for over 21,000 homes and will bring in excess of £11m to the economy of to the sub regional area. 

But now it has emerged that the Government’s decision may impact Rossendale Borough Council financially, as it was expecting to receive an annual revenue through retained business rates and land rent from the wind farm of £612,000 from 2018/19 onwards, which was part of the local authority’s latest Medium Term Financial Strategy.

“The proposed extension had potentially a 30-year revenue stream to Rossendale Council worth in excess of £18m,” said the council in a statement. 

“This financial contribution from Scout Moor is an integral part of the Council’s strategy in bridging the future funding gap, brought about by reductions in Central Government funding.

“This loss of revenue is possible one of two strategies within the MTFS, the other being business rates pooling (worth £400k per annum) which is yet to be approved by Central Government,” the statement adds.

Jonathan England, a Development Director at Peel Energy, who own the wind farm, said the company is “obviously disappointed” with the call in and “are currently considering our options”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We have carefully considered the proposed expansion of Scout Moor Wind Farm against the government’s call in policy and decided that the planning applications should be decided by central government. 

“Call in of planning applications is used for only a small number of planning cases of more than local significance.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues