A green energy company has sold half the shares in its Northumberland wind farm in a deal worth more than £70m.
RWE npower renewables, which developed the 18-turbine Middlemoor site near Alnwick, has announced that it has sold 49% of the shares in the project - and the same percentage of another of its sites - in a package totalling £70.6m.
Anti-wind farm campaigners living close to the site last night said they were not surprised by the sale - despite the vast amounts involved -given the large subsidies for renewable energy projects. They said they expected other developers to follow suit and called for the money to be used to reduce energy bills.
The company, part of the RWE Innogy group, sold the shares in its 125m turbines to Greencoat UK Wind plc.
The deal also saw it sell 49% of shares in a five 125m turbine wind farm in Nottinghamshire to the same firm.
No breakdown has been given for the value of the respective projects, though the Northumberland site is thought to be generating by far the largest income of the two.
RWE Innogy says it will reinvest the money in other renewable energy projects.
Last night, Cornhill farmer Andrew Joicey, who has fought a number of wind projects across North Northumberland, said: “It is entirely as I predicted. The returns for Greencoat are almost granted to be substantial and increasing thanks to the Government’s renewable energy policies.
“The Government have created a policy which creates a lot of subsidy income. Their income is bound to increase because of the way the subsidies work.”
He added: “It is very often the case that developers sell on their project so as to recoup their capital to finance their next project.
“I think we will see the same thing happening with other wind farms. That will allow npower to develop some more. It was always going to be the case that it was going to be sold on in my opinion.”
Kerry Noble, vice chairman of the Middleton Burn Action Group, which is fighting two proposed wind farms at Belford, added: “That does not surprise us at all. We know that vast amounts of money are involved.
“I wonder if that is going to reduce electricity bills at npower - I doubt it.”
Mr Noble said his group had already asked one of the developers at Belford whether it plans to sell on if given approval “for profit for the shareholder.”
Hans Bünting, chief executive of RWE Innogy said: “I am delighted with the progress of the Greencoat UK Wind Fund and the addition of two more RWE projects.
“This continues to demonstrate the quality and attractiveness of our projects.
“Together with Greencoat UK Wind we are continuing to progress one of our key strategic objectives of opening up our projects to investors and raising additional capital for the progression of renewable energy in Europe via attractive investment models.”
Tim Ingram, chairman of Greencoat UK Wind plc, added: “We are delighted to acquire further high quality, utility constructed and operated wind farms and announce the continued expansion of our investment portfolio.”
The deal will shine a fresh light on green subsides at a time when the Government is under pressure to reduce them.