Farmers losing out to renewable projects, claims TFA

THE Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has hit out at two local authorities which it said were ‘trampling’ over farmers in their bid to develop renewable energy schemes.

TFA chief executive George Dunn said Peterborough City Council and Norfolk County Council were carrying out renewable energy schemes which could be detrimental to the tenants who farm the land.

“We all understand the need to develop alternative means of energy production but we must do so in a way which works positively with the communities who will be affected by the development of new energy schemes,” said Mr Dunn.  

“Peterborough City Council has decided to plough ahead with a scheme which will involve the loss of up to a thousand acres of prime agricultural land for the establishment of three large energy parks. This is despite opposition from local communities and without proper consultation with the tenant farmers currently farming that land.”

But a council spokeswoman said the scheme would benefit the entire community at a time when budgets were being squeezed.

She said: “This project could generate in excess of £100 million in profit for tax payers over the next 25 years. At a time when council funding is reducing we have no option but to look at ways of attracting investment to ensure we can continue to provide the services our residents need and expect.”

Mr Dunn said Norfolk County Council had attempted to progress various schemes to install wind turbines on farms without ‘adequate consultation’ with tenant farmers or compensation for their loss.

“Clearly there is a huge incentive for local authorities to develop renewable energy schemes on the basis of the public subsidy available,” said Mr Dunn.

“However, public money should not be used in a way which displaces viable businesses or tramples on the rights of others.”

A spokesman for Norfolk Energy Futures, a company set-up by Norfolk County Council, added the turbines, 19 of which are already up and running, will produce free electricity for Norfolk’s farm tenants, but conceded communication could have been better.

The spokesman said the council had been working with the TFA to clarify compensation claims and benefits of the technology to farmers.

Energy Bill

THE Government’s new Energy Bill could bring a wealth of opportunities for farmers venturing into the renewables sector, experts said.

The Bill, introduced last week, proposes significant electricity market reform and includes plans to treble investment in clean power generation to £7.6 billion by 2020.

Chairman of Terravesta energy crop suppliers William Cracroft-Eley said: “The announcement shows the Government is putting serious backing behind a shake-up of power generation infrastructure in the UK, and this is certainly a step in the right direction for the energy crop market.”

Chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association Charlotte Morton, added the funding could provide ‘much needed clarity’ to the sector, which was needed to attract investment.

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