Wind farm firm accused of bribing locals with bill discount

Plans to give dozens of householders living close to a wind farm a discount on their electricity bills has been branded a “bribe”.

RES, the developer behind plans for three 130m high turbines near Hutton Cranswick and Watton, has written to nearly 100 householders saying they will be eligible for a discount of £167, if the farm is built, in what is a first for Yorkshire.

But vice-chairman of Hutton Cranswick parish council Chris Hughes said: “In my personal opinion it is a bribe. That’s the only way to describe it.

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“Indirectly I shall be paying for it through taxes; the Government is paying subsidies to landowners and, to add insult to injury, to the owners of companies who build the turbines – and they are not even British.”

The parish council has voted against the plans, mainly because of the disruption it would cause by bringing the heavy vehicles that transport the turbines through the village, and a recent poll showed 70 against and 23 in favour.

But Mr Hughes said the general consensus was that it would eventually be approved “and we shall probably have to put up with it”.

RES said the scheme was being put forward in addition to the community benefit fund for investing in local community projects – bringing the total package to £27,000 a year, or £675,000 over the lifetime of the wind farm.

They denied it was a bribe, saying eligible properties could get the discount regardless of their views.

RES project manager Micheal O’Broin said: “The implementation of this innovative discount scheme is in response to feedback from communities near both existing and potential development sites which highlighted cheaper electricity as a practical benefit RES could offer.

“Rotsea Wind Farm is RES’s first project in Yorkshire to offer a local electricity discount scheme (LEDS), bringing the total number of qualifying properties across the UK to more than 7,000 and, in turn, affirming our commitment to providing direct and tangible benefits to communities that host our wind farms.”

The discount would be paid directly to electricity suppliers for the full 25-year operational life of the wind farm.

RES has written directly to the properties around the site that are eligible to receive the electricity discount under LEDS, offering people the opportunity to register their interest in the scheme. The first payment of the discount, which is index linked, will be made within the first year of generation.

The planning application for Rotsea Wind Farm was formally registered by East Riding Council in November.

If approved, the wind farm will generate electricity equivalent to the annual needs of approximately 4,000 homes, equivalent to more than two thirds of all the homes in Driffield.

RES has already offered similar schemes at 21 wind farms across the UK.