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The Longer View Articles

Solar PV was once the preferred technology for landowners seeking to host an energy project, due mainly to the relative ease with which a scheme could be granted planning consent compared to other technologies. However, just as the technology started to mature, withdrawal of Government-backed subsidies appeared to signal its demise. Concurrently, Battery Storage and Peak Power Generation (PPG) schemes emerged as a new opportunity for landowners; technology designed to help balance the electricity distribution network by addressing problems caused by the intermittent nature of wind and solar PV generation.

As the Battery Storage and PPG Market continued to grow from strength to strength, in September 2017 Bloomberg released a report highlighting a tipping point in UK renewable energy deployment; it became cheaper to generate electricity by solar and offshore wind than by creating new coal, gas or nuclear fired power stations. This watershed moment occurred in the absence of subsidies, as costs decreased and perception of risk reduced as performance data collected over a number of years provided certainty of investor returns.

Consequently, we are seeing solar developers re-entering the market with a revised business model that no longer relies on subsidies, and produces viable revenues by securing long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with large energy consumers. Whilst this provides an opportunity for consented solar PV sites that were shelved when subsidies were cut, it is important for landowners to fully appreciate the merits of their site in order to determine whether it is best suited to solar PV or the more recent Battery Storage and PPG technology.

Public perception of solar is positive so planning applications are less likely to receive objections; a recent Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) survey found 84% of people support the technology. In addition, as a passive technology, solar is more suited to sensitive sites where noise or emissions are not acceptable, making it more likely to be granted consent in rural locations.

In contrast, with the application of Battery Storage and PPG technology for grid balancing being in its infancy, it is not widely understood by planning officers or the public, and as such the limits of the planning system are still being tested. However, it is harder to obtain planning permission in rural areas, due to the industrial/commercial perception of the technology, and its lack of green credentials. However, a case may be argued for development on agricultural land where existing energy infrastructure exists nearby, such as a substation or overhead line. Proximity to residential property may also be an issue due to the small amount of noise produced by cooling fans, but this is likely to be dependent on existing background noise levels and can sometimes be addressed with appropriate screening.

Similar in many ways to Battery Storage, Gas Generation developments require additional consideration to exhaust emissions that may limit the size of developments . The technology lacks the green credentials of battery storage and solar PV and is therefore less likely to receive support from the public and planners. This, in turn, may affect the likelihood of planning consent being granted in rural areas and on sites close to residential properties.

Whilst the public perception of solar developments is positive, they require an area up to 100 times the size of battery storage and PPG schemes, and as a result rental yields per acre are not as strong. In the current subsidy-free solar landscape, very large scale development is likely to be necessary to achieve the economies of scale required to make schemes viable, which may in turn face more opposition in the planning process than previous schemes, and if greater than 50 Megawatts in size, will require a Development Consent Order from the National Planning Inspectorate as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure project.

Although this article covers solar, battery and PPG, landowners with property near the strategic road network should also be aware of the opportunities emerging for electric vehicle charging stations required to meet the growing demand for this technology.

A knowledge of the grid and planning system are key to choosing the right opportunity for your site.  For further information or to explore which is best for your business contact our energy experts:

Simon Currie
Energy Specialist
0113 203 1099

As government ministers continue to argue amongst themselves about key Brexit decisions, farmers and landowners, who will be directly affected by the loss of EU funded farm support payments, are anxious to understand what the UK agricultural policy will actually look like going forward.  

Having heard DEFRA Minister of State, George Eustice speak at both the Bath and West and Royal Cornwall Shows in recent weeks, I suspect that more progress is being made in relation to the future UK farming policy than on other fundamental Brexit questions.  However, concern still remains that farmers need to understand what is going to happen so they can plan for change.

Currently, there is a general understanding that there will be a shift away from payments based on the area being farmed to a scheme where “public money” will only be paid to farmers for “public goods” but the detail as to what this actually means remains limited. Despite this the concept has been embraced by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) which has published a report called “The Land Management Contract (LMC) – Design and Delivery in England”.

This document sets out in some detail how the CLA think a LMC would work; the idea being to give farmers a menu of ways they can manage land to deliver public benefits.  It is envisaged public goods would include a whole raft of themes such as contributing toward thriving wildlife, reduced flood risk, health and well-being from better public access, enhanced heritage, educational visits, carbon storage, improved animal welfare, better soils, cleaner air, lower greenhouse gas emissions and thriving rural communities.

Via this proposed scheme farmers and landowners would effectively sign a contract with government, and receive payments based on what they contribute, rather than the amount of land they own.

However, the LMC should not be the only tool, says the CLA, but should be one part of a wider policy “to boost profitable farming and forestry through improved productivity, competitiveness and resilience within a thriving rural economy”.

The paper emphasises that, while a new public goods scheme based on LMCs would present significant opportunities for environmental improvement, “these benefits will only be delivered if the new scheme attracts farmers and land managers by making good business sense”.

This is an important point which I think the government are beginning to take on board alongside the realisation that domestic food security is also crucial.  Whatever public goods farmers will be expected to provide going forward, profitable food production must also be recognised as an important output of the farming industry and without this, the delivery of the desired public goods is likely to struggle.

James Stephen
01823 428860

We are now well into the Show Season where you will find Carter Jonas representatives at many regional and local agricultural shows and events. For the second year running we have signed up to be a premium sponsor of The Game Fair, which has promised to be the best yet as the event prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

The annual gathering, which will take place at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire from 27-29 July, is ready to unveil several new features to mark the occasion, as well as welcome back some old favourites.

One returning fixture will be The Carter Jonas Game Fair Theatre, hosted by the Field Sports Channel’s Charlie Jacoby. Last year, highlights included a controversial appearance by Nigel Farage who entertained the audience with tales of sea fishing and a multimedia approach which saw The Times’ rambling correspondent Christopher Somerville discuss his favourite pastime, while reaching his daily step count on a treadmill. “We had some super people last year and we’re hoping to get even more this year.”

“We will cover some terrific stories from the heart of the countryside and the worlds of hunting, shooting and fishing with some serious debates and some light-hearted discussions. We kick off with our keynote debate about the laws surrounding wildlife, how the political parties see them and what the future may hold, followed by a talk about rabbits and their value as a food source before joining Andy Crow for some timely advice on pigeon shooting. As one of the best-known exponents of this discipline, you can’t fail to learn something.”

“Carter Jonas take a fictional estate inhabited by Winnie the Pooh and his friends, including Pooh's 100-acre wood, surrounding land and farm buildings and demonstrate how to maximize its value, before joining Justin Urquhart-Stewart from Seven Investment Management to debate Corbyn and the countryside, which we expect to be provoke quite a bit of debate.” said Charlie.

“The theatre was a great success last year” said Tim Jones, Head of Rural at Carter Jonas. “For us it’s the ideal event to meet with our clients and other consultants, while working with Charlie and The Game Fair team, to ensure a packed programme of topical content.” 

As a premium sponsor we are able to offer a discounted ticket rate. To get your tickets click here. If you would like to book an appointment with one of our rural experts please contact your nearest office www.carterjonas.co.uk/contact

@ Tim Jones
Tim Jones
Partner - Head of Rural Division
01223 346609 email me about Tim
@ James Stephen
James Stephen
01823 428860 email me about James
@ Simon Currie
Simon Currie
Senior Energy Specialist
0113 203 1099 email me about Simon

Tim is head of the firm's Rural Division and of the Cambridge office, although he spends a considerable amount of time in London.  He has over 20 years experience in advising institutional and private clients on a very wide range of rural business issues, including sales and purchases, strategic advice and valuations.  He often works with specialists in other divisions of the firm to provide clients with a fully integrated property service.  Tim lives near Newmarket and has a keen interest in country pursuits, encouraged constantly by his two children.

I can provide advice on:

James is a Partner who heads up the South West Rural team based in Taunton.  He specialises in rural estate management, landlord and tenant matters, valuation, compulsory purchase and compensation, rural grant and subsidy regimes, rural planning issues and farm and estate diversification opportunities.

He is a RICS registered valuer and appointed valuer for the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC).

James has two children that absorb much of his free time but during the odd window of opportunity he enjoys fly fishing, playing tennis and cricket and is an armchair rugby enthusiast.

I can provide advice on:

Energy Specialist in the Infrastructure and Energy team. Providing advice on energy projects and associated infrastructure including renewables, peak power generation and energy storage. Specifically, Simon advises landowners and developers on land referencing, site suitability, feasibility, technology selection, and project delivery.

I can provide advice on:

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