Deal Puts Wind in the Sails of Turbine Project

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A leading South West law firm has provided advice on a 500kW wind turbine project at Holsworthy in Devon and reached exchange in just 5 business days in order to facilitate the project moving on to the next stage.

The renewables team at Stephens Scown LLP acted for the landowner, adding to the existing portfolio of wind projects located on his property.  Solicitor Justin Butt led on the property and renewables elements.

The developer for the project is One Wind Renewables, represented by Murrell Associates.

Sonya Bedford, head of renewables at Stephens Scown, commented: “We were delighted to be able to advise on this deal, which needed to be completed quickly in order to ensure that the project could be delivered in time to make it financially feasible. While the renewables industry in general faces some pressure due to the early closure of certain financial support schemes, it is still possible for the right deals to be completed successfully – and demand for, and interest in, renewable energy schemes remains high.”

Positives for the wind sector

 Despite the closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO) Scheme offering subsidies to onshore wind projects in June last year, following which energy secretary Amber Rudd said that 7.1 gigawatts of proposed wind farms (approximately 2,500 turbines) that had yet to gain planning consent were “unlikely to go ahead”, just 200 megawatts (approximately 80 turbines or fewer) have actually been blocked as a result of the early closure, Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) estimates.

Sonya Bedford explained: “Almost all of the projects that would have gone ahead under the RO scheme will still be able to, thanks to a generous ‘grace period’ for those companies that had already invested heavily and got planning consent. Projects that qualify for the proposed early closure grace period will be able to accredit under the RO up to 31 March 2017, the original RO closure date. Such projects will be able to accredit by 31 March 2018 under one of the existing grace periods for projects affected by a grid or aviation delay, provided they also satisfy the eligibility criteria for at least one of those grace periods.”

Grace periods – eligibility and evidence

 In order to be eligible for the proposed grace period, DECC has said that projects will need to demonstrate they satisfy all of the grace period conditions as of the date of the announcement, i.e. 18 June 2015.

DECC envisages that the proposed grace period will apply to projects which are able to:

  • demonstrate that they have relevant planning consents dated no later than the date of the announcement (18 June 2015);
  • demonstrate that they have a grid connection offer and acceptance of that offer, both dated no later than the date of the announcement; or confirmation that no grid connection is required; and
  • provide a Director’s Certificate confirming that, as at the date of announcement, the developer or proposed operator of the station owns the land on which the station is to be situated OR has an option or agreement to lease the land OR is party to an exclusivity agreement in relation to the land.

Stephens Scown has over 290 staff, including more than 50 partners, across its offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. For more information visit www.stephens-scown.co.uk