A spring is in the step but don’t miss out on the SPS

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Spring is such a hectic time of the year with the countryside suddenly springing into life; fertiliser is on, oilseed rape is flowering, lambs are abundant and enjoying this amazing spell of weather, and the arduous daily task of winter feeding cattle is all but over. Thoughts are turning to silage, plans for 2012 cropping and even purchasing inputs for 2012 harvest.

If you’ve somehow forgotten, the annual SPS deadline is closing in fast, and I wouldn’t delay. Completing the form online is simple, avoids making errors and guarantees the form gets delivered.

I would recommend you try to use it, as I’m sure it will speed up the processing of the claim.

We’ve had a busy few weeks on our renewables roadshows and have covered Kelso down to Driffield. The theme of the events was to look at opportunities, how to assess the constraints of a site and the options for development and funding.

One key aspect of the meetings was the time, particularly on wind projects, and ensuring that you are able to get the project up and running before any significant change in the tariff levels.

The time required to get a planning application submitted and through the system is significant and if you factor in delivery and grid connection, a project may take in excess of 18 months before it is actually hooked up and feeding electric into the grid.

Secondly, feedback was focused on the different options available to you as a property occupier. It depends on where you lie on our ‘risk-o-meter’; are you risk averse and therefore only interested in a lease type arrangement? Or are you willing to take a much higher risk but expect a much higher level of return as a result (i.e. self develop).

It’s so important to understand where you sit on the scale, and to constantly review at each stage of the process. We’ve several clients who may get the planning consent but will then choose to lease out the site and take an annual income rather than borrowing the money and building out the project, others would just prefer the annual income from the very beginning (no cost to you).

Risk is such a critical element of renewables projects. All capital spent to the point of achieving a planning consent is at risk (there is no guarantee that you will get planning). Understanding the risk is key for the lenders as well, you need to understand what they want before getting the consent. Many have specific requirements particularly on turbine type, payback etc. The tax opportunities are interesting and ensuring the right trading structure is in place at the off will help reduce the tax burden and take advantage of the early trading losses.

Spring is my favourite time of the year, but don’t forget your SPS form and do think of the other opportunities that are out there for you to earn additional income, create a more sustainable business without adding to the management burden and risk to the financial stability of you and your family.

George F. White has offices in Bedale and Shiptonthorpe serving Yorkshire. For further information please contact Louis Fell on tel. 01430 8760010 or email louisfell@georgefwhite.co.uk