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Onshore wind - could your project benefit from a grace period?

On 18 June 2015 the government announced that subsidies for onshore wind projects will be cut from 1 April 2016. Today a policy paper has been issued, setting out the conditions that the government envisages will need to be satisfied in order for a project to qualify for a grace period. If a project qualifies for a grace period it will be eligible for support via the Renewables Obligation, rather than having to apply for a Contract for Difference. To be eligible for a grace period, a project will need to satisfy all conditions as at 18 June 2015.  

It is important to note that legislation has not been passed, so the qualification criteria are not yet certain. However, the government envisages that the grace period will apply to projects which are able to:

  • demonstrate that they have the relevant planning consents dated no later than 18 June 2015;
  • demonstrate that they have a grid connection offer and acceptance of that offer, both dated no later than 18 June 2015, or confirmation that no grid connection is required; and
  • provide a Director's Certificate confirming that, as at 18 June 2015, the developer or proposed operator of the station owns the land on which the station is to be situated, or has an option or agreement to lease the land, or is party to an exclusivity agreement in relation to the land.

If a project qualifies for the grace period, it will be able to accredit under the Renewables Obligation up to 31 March 2017. Projects will be able to accredit under one of the existing grace periods for projects affected by a grid or aviation delay, provided that they also satisfy the eligibility criteria for at least one of those grace periods. 

Views are welcomed from the onshore wind industry and other interested stakeholders so that the terms of the legislation can be framed. The government is interested in hearing about projects affected by the proposals, particularly those currently in the planning system but which have not yet received planning permission. They would like to receive information and evidence relating to:

  • the stage that such projects have reached in the planning process, anticipated final planning decision dates, and expenditure incurred as at 18 June 2015;
  • project timetables and anticipated dates for securing a grid connection offer and acceptance; and
  • the prospects of such projects being in a position to accredit under the Renewables Obligation by 31 March 2017 and expected final investment decision dates.

There will be no formal consultation so if you wish to give your views on how the legislation should be drafted, you will need to contact the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at June 2015. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions on www.TLTsolicitors.com

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