The UK has some of the best wind resources in Europe and onshore wind is one of the most cost-effective large-scale renewable energy technologies.
We are committed to using onshore wind as part of the UK’s energy mix.
Onshore wind and the Renewables Obligation (RO)
The cost of onshore wind has fallen and we have been able to cut the subsidy accordingly. In 2012 we announced we would reduce support for onshore wind under the RO by 10% to 0.9 Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) between 2013 and 2017.
Read our detailed guide on Calculating ROCs.
Onshore wind call for evidence
We have launched a call for evidence on onshore wind to look at how to engage local communities and explore the benefits of them hosting. It concentrates on:
- how windfarm developers consult with local communities about their plans
- ways of investing in local economies
- whether there are innovative ways of making sure local energy consumers benefit
The call for evidence is also looking at the cost of onshore wind. We will formally review the costs if the evidence shows a review is justified. Any new arrangements arising from a review would not take effect before April 2014.
We expect to publish our response in the Summer of 2013
If the findings of the call for evidence show that one or more of the statutory grounds for a further review exists - for example, that the costs of onshore wind have come down - the Government will expect to initiate an immediate review of support levels for onshore wind. As we set out in the banding review response last summer - available on the GOV.UK website - see page 30, we would expect to protect from a fall in support levels those projects where significant financial commitments had been made. In this way we will ensure that pressures on household bills are kept to the absolute minimum while also ensuring that investors have the policy stability that they require to continue to invest in the UK economy. The Secretary of State has provided more information about our proposed grace period policy in the event of a tariff change.
The impact of wind turbine noise on planning decisions
Wind turbines do make noise, but it is important to put this in context. The indicative maximum noise level of a wind farm at 350m is in the region of 35-45 dB. This is a much lower level than is made by road traffic on a country road, for example.
Noise impacts are considered within the planning process before any decision is taken whether or not to grant consent to a project.
The method of assessing the noise impact of a wind farm is described in ETSU-R-97: The assessment and rating of noise from windfarms, by the Working Group on Noise from Wind Turbines (Final Report, September 1996) for the Department of Trade and Industry.
The method requires the likely impact of noise from wind turbines on local residents and those working in the vicinity to be considered in relation to the existing background noise levels taking into account the characteristics of particular locations.
Analysis of how noise impacts are considered in the determination of wind farm planning applications
In response to concerns about the current appropriateness of some of the measurement methods set out in ETSU-R-97, DECC commissioned acoustic experts at Hayes McKenzie to review the measurement and prediction aspects used to determine noise impacts as part of the planning application process. Their report was published in June 2011 and found that good practice guidance was needed to update, confirm, and where necessary clarify the way the measurement and prediction aspects in ETSU-R-97 should be implemented in practice.
Good practice guide to the application of ETSU-R-97 for wind turbine noise assessment
The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change wrote to the IOA on 20 May 2013 to “accept that the Good Practice Guide represents current industry good practice, and to endorse it as a supplement to ETSU-R-97 .” The good practice guidance will provide a valuable technical supplement to ETSU-R-97 (the method for assessing noise impacts from wind turbines), and in turn help to improve the consistency of its application in the consideration of wind farm projects.
The guidance has been produced independently of Government by the IOA. They have drawn on the expertise of a range of represented members, including local authorities, acoustic consultancies, developers, and a range of other interested parties, to produce and peer review the guidance. The guidance was subject to a 12 week public consultation.
Amplitude modulation (AM)
DECC intends to appoint acoustics experts to review the evidence on wind turbine amplitude modulation (AM), with a view to providing advice on how appropriate AM thresholds might be set in planning conditions. The review, which will complement work on AM that the Institute of Acoustics is undertaking already, is expected to conclude in the spring. It will not consider other forms of noise from wind turbines, which are already addressed in planning guidance.
Read our detailed guide onshore wind for further information.