If you had only read the headline and the opening paragraph of an interview I did with The Times recently “Windfarm owner quits over political interference” (Tuesday 25th November), you may get the impression that Ecotricity is giving up on England.
It’s not quite what it appears. I’m happy to say.
We’ve had a policy in place for some 12 months now, to stop finding and submitting new wind sites into planning in England and instead to focus our efforts on Scotland – for the reasons set out in the article, it’s become very difficult in England, to the point that we were wasting time and money to a degree we could no longer accept.
So we’ve adapted our approach and it makes sense to do so. The goal posts keep moving and the government has clearly set itself against onshore wind.
There’s an election coming and hopefully we’ll get a new government that’s in favour of renewable energy in England. We have that in Scotland already of course.
Until that happens the best use of our time and other resources is to avoid England, where even when you win a public enquiry after four years work, some politician comes along and overturns that – for short term political expediency. We still hope the courts will overturn one of Mr Pickles latest interventions in the planning process.
Meanwhile, we have 6 projects still in planning in England. And another 6 consented and ready to build – which will add 70MW to our total green energy generating capacity – doubling it. So it’s not like we won’t be busy in England for a while. But we’ll hold back from new site work until the political climate improves.
We’re pushing ahead with our Sun Park work though, with one to be built shortly and several to go to planning.
And, of course, we are still based in Gloucestershire, where we have doubled staff numbers over the past two years and are a big part of the local community.