Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Generating energy and income

04/09/23Generating energy and income

Although the environment and energy generation issues continue to be discussed at length, it’s interesting to see the progress we’re actually making when it comes to hitting Net Zero targets.

A recent report has criticised the Government for not pushing harder and faster on some issues, with targets falling short in several areas. To take an example that’s relevant to our property sector, fewer homes were insulated last year under the government-backed scheme than in 2021. This is despite the price of energy rising considerably and a cost-of-living crisis that is pushing up prices of everything, from groceries to fuel costs. Are these low figures regarding insulation due apathy when it comes to take-up, or is it related to how well the government is getting the message out there?

Taking new opportunities

We have found it interesting to see high levels of activity from a large number of renewable energy companies in certain areas. For example, in Wrexham, the Legacy substation is due to be upgraded, which will provide more capacity for renewable projects to connect to the grid. Consequently we have one farmer client who has been approached by nine different companies looking to rent land for solar and battery storage. The potential rental returns, particularly for battery storage, can be lucrative for landowners. However, it is important to consider and to take advice on the potential downsides of these sorts of projects, so that decisions can be made on an informed basis. Sometimes for instance, the inadequacy of the national electricity transmission system means there can be limited opportunities to connect efficiently.

Solar and wind turbine schemes have a very mixed reception from different quarters. They are sometimes deemed unpopular from the perspective of the visual impact they have on the rural landscape. However, they are making use of a natural resource to create renewable energy. Of course, the infrastructure needed to enable these sorts of developments is often substandard and not up to the demands of the new technology. As a topical example, we are being asked to advise clients on oversail agreements, to enable large turbine sections and blades to be moved by road and potentially oversail private properties.

Turning to new technology

Oversailing is something that anyone involved in largescale construction may be familiar with. Wind turbine propellers are huge and unwieldy to transport. They often cause logistical challenges and may require escorts, police involvement, road closures and specialist transport requirements, as the blades can be between 20 and 80 metres long. At pinch points on their routes to installation, they may oversail people’s property at the roadside or on bends. The principle of law is that a landowner owns all the airspace above their land. This means that if anyone infringes on that airspace, they are technically trespassing. As such, anyone transporting these blades may have need to request that property owners enter into a legal agreement to enable them to oversail the property. These are usually on the basis of a term of several years, not to cause damage and to pay a fee which we can help them obtain and negotiate with the landowners to make the transportation route legal.

Forge is keeping abreast of the opportunities and pitfalls of new legislation regarding environmental issues as they come into play. This enables us to advise clients, who are wishing to consider renewable energy projects on their land. To find out more, get in touch with us today.

 

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