Banks Renewables has applied for judicial review of the government’s third Contracts for Difference auction, saying it discriminates in favour of offshore wind at the expense of onshore wind and other renewable energy technologies. Banks says that, ”is against the public interest, prevents consumers from benefiting from the lower energy prices that would result from their inclusion and, from a legal perspective, does not comply with either EU or UK law.”
It says the government has excluded fully-consented onshore wind from participating in the auction in 2017 and this year – an auction that is currently under way.
Richard Dunkley, managing director at Banks Renewables, said: “We have consistently expressed the view for many years that, as the most cost-effective method of low carbon electricity generation available, consented onshore wind farms should be included within the CfD auction process, and we have been in discussion with the UK Government over this matter for several months.
“It has so far indicated that it intends to continue with a policy which will result in slower decarbonisation and reduces competition in a way which leads to higher electricity bills for everybody, and we have therefore very reluctantly had to take this next step. We simply desire a level playing field.”
Banks operates ten wind farms in Scotland and England totalling 224MW. The company has two consented onshore wind farms in Scotland with a combined capacity of 150MW which were not permitted to compete in this year’s auctions.
Dunkley added: “UK government policy is expressly to make CfD support available to offshore wind but not to onshore wind, a position which it presently intends should endure. This policy will in particular frustrate the Scottish Government’s drive towards encouraging the further development of onshore wind projects within Scotland.
“The Banks Group is perhaps unique in having used revenues generated from coal mining operations to drive its successful diversification into the onshore wind sector over the last 15 years and fully supports a stable transition to a low carbon economy, but the progress of our contribution towards achieving this goal has been halted by the government’s position on onshore wind.”
Meanwhile, Banks Renewables sister company Banks Mining is awaiting a decision on consent for a new mine at Druridge in County Durham. The application was rejected by then-secretary of state Sajid Javid last year, but is being considered after an appeal.