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DECC clarifies extent of grace period for onshore wind

The Energy Act 2016 contains provisions in relation to the closure of the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind from 12 May 2016. In limited circumstances, this deadline is extended to provide projects with a "grace period".

The "approved development condition" is designed to provide a grace period to those projects that have progressed in the planning process.  The extent of the approved development condition was hotly debated and held up the Bill's passage through Parliament.  

The approved development condition will be met where:

  • Projects had been granted planning permission by 18 June 2015. 
  • Planning permission was refused on or before 18 June 2015, but was subsequently granted after an appeal or judicial review. 

However, where planning permission was not in place by 18 June 2015, the approved development condition will only be met if planning permission was granted on or after that date following an appeal.

The approved development condition does not apply in cases where a planning application was made on or before 18 June 2015 and then planning permission was granted without an appeal being necessary. 

Given this very narrow application, TLT wrote to the Department of Energy & Climate Change asking for clarification of the government's intention in relation to cases where planning permission had not been granted on or before 18 June 2015.

The Minister of State for Energy, Andrea Leadsom MP, has confirmed that the approved development condition should not apply where a planning application was submitted on or before 18 June 2015 and planning permission was granted after 18 June 2015 without an appeal being required. 

She stated that she believes the government's policy strikes the right balance between the public interests involved. These include protecting customer bills, ensuring the right mix of energy and the interests of the onshore wind industry.

Leadsom was of the view that onshore wind has deployed successfully to date and is projected to meet our Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan range of 11-13 GW by 2020. Also, that this is sufficient to ensure that onshore wind makes its expected contribution towards meeting our 2020 renewables target.  

It would be interesting to know how many projects would have met the approved development condition had it included those which received planning permission without an appeal being required.  These would have contributed to the amount of energy generated from renewable sources. However, the government seems intent on just satisfying its renewables target, rather than trying to exceed it.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at July 2016. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions 

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