Developers of wind farms offer 'sweeteners' to local communities, but they may be tiny compared to the revenues.
Scarcely a week goes by when I am not asked by a local campaign group to publicise their fight against some scheme to build one of those increasingly hated wind farms. So many developers are now piling in on the subsidy bonanza that, according to a survey by the Western Morning News, in Cornwall and Devon alone no fewer than 600 such schemes are now being discussed or going through the planning process.
A ploy often used by developers to buy off opposition to their proposals is to offer cash to fund local community projects. But few campaign groups are aware just how derisory the sums often are, compared with the gains the developers stand to make.
I was recently approached, for instance, by Felix Williams, mayor of the little Suffolk market town of Eye, over a plan for two huge 3.4 megawatt (MW) turbines that would loom over the town from the site of a former wartime airfield nearby. Although the scheme was almost unanimously opposed by the town council, it was approved by Mid-Suffolk district council, on the grounds that it was necessary to meet the local target set by the Government, itself determined by our commitment to the EU to generate 32 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2020, mainly from tens of thousands of new turbines.
The developers tried to appease opponents of the scheme by offering Eye £7,000 a year. What Mayor Williams wished to know was how this compares with the profits they might make from it.