The NFU Farm Service reports record levels of interest in renewable energy among farmers, just 12 months since its launch.
The Service has so far aided over 1,500 farmers in the UK to benefit from clean energy and diversify their incomes. The Service helps farmers to overcome the chief barriers to uptake – finance and planning – in order to net up to £50,000 in extra income per annum.
Dr Jonathan Scurlock, the NFU’s chief advisor for renewable energy and climate change, said: “2012 was a difficult year for the farming community, with bad weather hitting incomes hard. Investing in renewable energy provides farmers and growers with additional earnings at a time when farm budgets have become very stretched.”
Lending figures from NatWest and RBS show that the bulk of farmers interested in renewable energy are in the Midlands (40 per cent), followed by Scotland and the North East. 52 per cent of enquiries related to solar PV and thermal whilst 30 per cent were for wind turbines.
There is good new for farmers nervous about gaining planning permission as, according to Fisher German, the approval rate for wind projects is very strong. It reports that 82 per cent of small wind applications receive immediate approval and two third of those which go to appeal are eventually given the green light too.
Liberty Stones, from Fisher German, added: “National Planning Policy currently recognises that small scale renewable projects make a valuable contribution to cutting emissions and promotes the approval of such projects subject to their impacts being acceptable. Provided farmers receive the right support, planning is not the concern that many anticipate.”
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