THE importance of renewable energy generation is poised to become hugely important to landowners over the next decade.
The findings came from a snapshot poll taken at a conference organised specifically to discuss the issue. The Renewable Projects: Landowner to Landowner event at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, found that 65% believed that renewable energy production would be very important to their overall business in 10 years’ time, compared to 54% in five years’ time, and 19% at the moment.
Solar/PV was chosen as the most popular renewable technology, with 30% saying they were interested in installing it, followed by 26% who were interested in wind power, followed by biomass (20%), and 18% interested in anaerobic digestion.
Money was at the heart of landowners’ decisions to exploring alternative energy, with 42% looking at the issue to increase their income and 39% to save money.
But the biggest barrier they faced was getting a connection to the National Grid, followed by planning issues.
Jamie Younger, a partner at one of the event’s organisers, accountants Saffery Champness, said: “The conference proved to be a very valuable day for those who attended, as they benefited from the advice and experiences of landowners who had already faced the challenges of developing a renewable energy scheme on their land. For our part as accountants, we were able to advise on the importance of careful tax planning at the early stages of a project, and to ensure that the right structure is used to maximise flexibility of future ownership going forward.”
Speakers at the event included Henry Robinson, deputy president of the CLA, who has himself implemented a solar project, Ian Burrow, head of renewables and agriculture at Natwest/RBS, and Dr Jonathan Scurlock, chief renewables adviser with the NFU. The event was chaired by the NFU’s deputy president Meurig Raymond.
Andrew Lane, partner at lawyers Forsters, another one of the event’s organisers along with chartered surveyors Fisher German, said: “The conference provided an excellent opportunity for farmers and landowners to share their experience of renewables projects. Renewable energy has the potential to become an important source of income for farmers and landowners over the next few years.
“It will be vitally important that they seek expert advice on legal issues at an early stage in negotiations, whether they are carrying out a stand-alone project themselves or entering into an agreement with a developer or operator.”