Examination of Witnesses (Questions 45-59)|
WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY 2002
45. Welcome you had the benefit of hearing our
questions to our previous guests, they will not be same for you,
not entirely. Thank you also for the excellent memorandum you
also put in. Is there anything you would like to add to that?
(Mr Goodall) If I may briefly, three brief points.
Firstly, I am particularly pleased to be joined by our chairman
this afternoon. Earlier on today we have had a meeting of all
of the companies involved in developing the offshore sites, which
I am sure you can imagine was quite fraught and lengthy.
46. Was it an interesting meeting?
(Mr Goodall) Very. We moved through it with some speed
and I am very pleased to have David Still with me today. Secondly,
we have also, with the Committee's permission, introduced an additional
piece of evidence, which is this supporting document which I may
refer to in due course. Thirdly, to update you on our current
membership, since I submitted this note we have had three more
companies in memberships, so it is 178 at present.
47. Mr Goodall, afternoon I am very pleased
you presented us with this booklet, I have not had an opportunity
of reading it thoroughly yet, I would like to question you on
some of the contents of it. The Committee is, as you know, looking
at how the Government intends to achieve its targets on renewable
energy which are, of course, United Kingdom targets. We are aware
that the United kingdom is made up of various parts and since
devolution those parts have various roles to play. Although we
have tried from time to time in various other enquires to ask
ministers do they have in mind a breakdown of targets we have
not succeeded as yet in getting any sort of answer to this. Clearly
in order to achieve our United Kingdom targets we must have some
view about how different parts of the United Kingdom will contribute
to that and the Government must, I would imagine, have a view.
Have you informed the Government or been involved in developing
this view, can you help us?
(Mr Goodall) Yes I think I can shed some light on
that, if I may use that blue book by way of illustration,
what we attempted to do is, taking the only known figures that
exist as to how the government has at any point in recent history
envisaged the target being met by a technology splitthere
was in the early consultation document the government put out
on prospects for renewable energyan indicative split that
was given as onshore wind. What we did by way of working out how
that might translate into an equitable share of the opportunities
that wind energy presented was to break it down on the known regions,
and within that we include Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland
for present purposes. Using a very simple formula, which I promise
you there are pages of detail about, not simply looking at the
resource but also looking at the population, there being an inherent
assumption in this that in some way localising energy, particularly
electricity, wind in this case, generating to local demand, was
a very sensible idea in anticipation of what we were going to
be seeing in terms of changes on the grid and came up with a formula
and a calculation and an indicative number of turbines that each
region or country may find within it to meet that section of the
target. That was nearly four years ago and there have been a number
of developments since then, not least of which the imminent obligation
and the influence that has had on the market's behaviour. We have
also seen developments in other technologies and the political
context in which they exist as well. We have also seen the emergence
of offshore wind and the apparent popularity of that. This blue
book is a useful illustration of how that might work. You are
right in identifying that we imagine that a United Kingdom government
may have a view as to how it sees both its regional programme
and how it sees Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland meeting their
own aspirations within that. I have to say that one thing, what
I would like most of all this year is to find a clear understanding
of how central Government sees its renewable resource studies
which it has charged the government offices with doing being converted
into targets and how that process might work. I cannot answer
you as to how the government might see this working but we can
illustrate, and have done so far, is how that might be seen across
48. Thank you. In your submission you contrast
those regions and say considerable progress has been made in Scotland,
quite the opposite has occurred in Wales. How do you justify that
given that, as I understand it, as I have been told, 40 per cent
of the available onshore energy wind energy in the United Kingdom
is inherently produced in Wales? In your document you suggest
that the target should be 80 per cent. Going on those figures,
Wales is well ahead of the game.
(Mr Goodall) May I answer that in two parts? You are
absolutely correct in your analysis of the current generation.
Looking towards what the government envisaged as a United Kingdom
generation and how much of that might be from onshore wind we
looked at what the additional capacity might be, rather than simply
taking a resource calculation by looking at populations and we
see how that might be distributed across the United Kingdom. The
second part of that is simply looking at where planning consents
are being granted across the United Kingdom and where we are seeing
this new capacity coming on. We are seeing projects winning consent
generally in Scotland, the opposite is the case in Wales, where
it is a rare event to see a planning consent awarded in Wales.
49. The 40 per cent figure is historical achievement.
(Mr Goodall) Yes.
50. As a former Environment Minister for Wales
I am interested in that.
(Mr Goodall) If we look at what Wales could contribute
and therefore take an opportunity from there is an enormous resource
in Wales, as there is in Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom.
Much of the United Kingdom is sufficiently windy to have wind
projects. When one looks at the most economic projects they may
well be in certain locations and the opportunity afforded by Wales
is considerably greater than the opportunity used thus far.
51. Why is the planning system operated more
successfully in Scotland?
(Mr Goodall) To some extent this is anecdotal, there
does appear to be a very deliberate embracing of the opportunity
in Scotland, and we can see in the recent Scottish Executive Study
and Report that Scotland has identified it has a renewable resource
and has welcomed the process of introducing new developments and
with that the associated jobs that go with it. It is no coincidence
that the recent announcement of the first wind turbine manufacturing
plant in the United Kingdom for some time was made in Scotland,
largely on the back of an expected succession of orders for wind
farms to be built, again not surprisingly, not too far from the
source of manufacturing.
52. Can you explain to the Committee, is it
not true that below a certain level of power production, I think
it is 50 megawatts, that planning applications are considered
by devolved organisations or will this differ from one devolved
organisation to another? My knowledge is more clear about Wales,
but the DTI take planning decisions above those threshold figures?
(Mr Goodall) Section 36 applications which are greater
than 50 megawatts are taken by the Secretary of State
53. Which secretary of state?
(Mr Goodall) For energy.
(Mr Still) The DTI. That is in England and Wales,
for Scotland it is under the Scottish minister.
54. If there is a concern about difficulty in
getting planning applications in order to meet targets for various
regions can that be overcome by simply applying for very large
(Mr Still) I think that you find a wind farm site
and you cannot say I can make it over 50 megawatts, it depends
where it is in the area. It is appropriate in certain locations
to have two, four or five turbines. In other areas, especially
the remoter areas of Scotland, you can get above 50 megawatts
on a coastal site in an industrial area. It is finding the right
location for the right sized project. Where you have a few turbines
there probably is not a normal generating infrastructure, so it
benefits even more because you are putting power very close to
55. Turning to the England, you say in your
memorandum that the government has committed itself to preparing
regional assessments and targets for renewable energy in England
but you refer to an uncertain outcome of this process?
(Mr Goodall) The Government asked government offices
to do a resource assessment across the renewable technologies
available. One of those has now reported and come up with figures
that suggest there are considerable resources, particularly of
onshore wind, in each of those regions. If there is this question
of an overall United Kingdom ten per cent target it would be great
fortune were all those regional assessments and interpretations
to happily add up to that magic ten per cent in a way that everybody
else was comfortable with. What we do not understand is how that
challenge will be brokered and what role government will play
in terms of whether it will simply leave it to the market underneath
or whether it will say, "Okay, there needs to be more of
a shift from one region to another". We do not understand,
because we do not know, how that process will come out and that
has created uncertainty, particularly in England, because most
planning authorities are aware of this process going on and that
has in some cases apparently led to some delay as to making decisions
about planning applications, because this bigger process is about
to be unveiled in due course.
56. You seem to be as ignorant as the Committee
is in these matters. Could you enlighten us as to what other countries
do? We are about to go to Germany, partially to discover how German
national commitments are achieved via their various Lander. Do
you have any information about how foreign countries meet their
(Mr Goodall) Yes.
(Mr Still) A good example is Denmark, where you have
14 to 15 per cent of their electricity from wind energy at the
moment. Effectively, the overall plan comes from central government
and it goes right down to the parish council to designate where
wind farms should be within their parish boundary or the district
council equivalent as it goes through. There is a positive push
from the top right down to the smallest council to say that this
is an area which could take a certain amount of wind energy.
57. I do not understand how that works. If we
are talking about a universally perceived good which unfortunately
we are not, then I can understand why everyone puts their hand
up for the parish and says, "We will have a wind farm",
like Spartacus. They all want wind farms. That is not the real
world. The real world is that there is a reluctance in certain
areas and regions for wind farms and there are likely to be people
saying, "Why should we have this number of wind farms and
you are not doing your share in a different part of the country?"
How do other countries get over this or how do you suggest the
United Kingdom should get over this? Should there be incentives
(Mr Goodall) By way of example from Germany, there
are two additional factors that may be directly relevant. One
is the nature of land ownership. Quite often, particularly in
Germany, land is owned in small pockets. There is also the issue
of the supporting tariff and essentially, over-simplifying the
process, in Germany, there is a "must take" arrangement
for wind generation. There are tax breaks and there is a very
high tariff, a feeding tariff, paid. The Germans have a wonderful
phrase which is "Your own pigs don't smell" and therefore
farmers are quite highly incentivised to put up a turbine because
they are going to get a good rate for it. The neighbours see it
and say, "We will have that as well." Because of the
nature of land ownership and arguably the nature of the local
planning process and understanding of national objectives, one
tends to see a proliferation. They tend to be very small developments.
You rarely see a large project being developed and there is a
bit of a "me too" factor in that respect because there
is a direct material benefit accruing to the farmer.
58. I have been to a wind farm and climbed a
turbine and I know there is not any difficulty in getting the
farmer to approve of the wind farm on his land, not surprisingly,
because I think at the time he was getting £5,000 per turbine
per annum. Is that right?
(Mr Goodall) Maybe.
59. It was a lot more money than he was getting
from the sheep. There was never any difficulty in persuading a
farmer that he should have a wind farm. I never encountered a
farmer who did not want a wind farm. I encountered farmers who
were jealous of a neighbouring farmer who had a wind farm and
they did not have a wind farm but that was never the problem.
The problem was people who maybe lived nearby or more likely visited
occasionally, who would object to the wind farm's impact upon
the landscape. How does that operate differently in Germany?
(Mr Goodall) I do not know of a significant resistance
to wind turbines in Germany and that may be for a number of reasons,
partly steeped in the German democratic tradition and some of
the activities of the Green Party particularly and its nuclear
agenda. There is also perhaps the very pedantic point about the
ownership of the turbines as opposed to taking a rent, where the
farmer owns the turbine, which is a different relationship to
paying rent to an operator of a wind farm.
10 Planning for wind energy, a guide for regional targets',
published by BWEA Back