27 May 2015 | Online since 2003



26 February 2013|News,Renewables

Renewable energy offers lifeline for struggling farmers


Record levels of interest are being reported in renewable energy as a source of income among farmers struggling financially.

In a year that saw crop yields reduced and productivity down to levels seen in the 1980s, renewable energy provided support for British farms according to Dr. Jonathan Scurlock.

"2012 was a difficult year for the farming community, with bad weather hitting incomes hard. Investing in renewable energy provides farmers and growers with additional earnings at a time when farm budgets have become very stretched" said Dr Scurlock, NFU chief adviser.

According to lending figures from NatWest and RBS, the bulk of farmers interested in renewable energy are in the Midlands, at 40 per cent, followed by Scotland, the North East and the South West.

The NFU Farm Energy Service celebrates its first anniversary and has so far helped 1,550 farms around the UK in the twelve months since it was launched.

52% of renewable queries made to the service relate to solar technologies, which tend to have more eligible sites than any other technologies.

The number of agricultural solar installations has increased recently, according to renewable energy specialists.

"We have seen an increase in the number of agricultural customers as from a farmer’s point of view it makes sense to reduce their energy bills and make the most of the land they have available by installing solar panels" said Sam Tilley, Managing Director of Infinite Energy.

"People often think solar systems need to be implemented on roofs but ground implementations are becoming increasingly popular."

Wicks Manor has been producing pork for over 40 years on the family run pig farm in Essex. They saw the electricity bills continuing to rise and wanted a way to reduce their CO2 emissions.

"Pigs are born and bred at Wicks Manor, they eat wheat and barley grown and milled on the farm. We wanted to find a ’greener’ way to run the operation, renewable systems are the way forward for farmers" said Fergus Howie, Partner of Wicks Manor.

30 per cent of renewable queries relate to wind turbines which, according to specialist surveyors Fisher German, offer farmers a particularly strong rate of return. Yields can reach 25 per cent in areas of high wind.

Meanwhile, analysis from NatWest and RBS and trade association RenewableUK today suggests that most wind farm installations for 2012 were up to 80kW, making farmers between £12,000 and £50,000 a year.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK, said: "Farmers are experts at harnessing the Earth’s natural resources, so it's no surprise that they are leading the way on wind energy."

"The UK has the most powerful wind resource in Europe and this has provided a vital source of income for farmers, helping to preserve rural communities in Britain."

The past year has also shown that two barriers to the uptake of renewable energy – financing and planning – have not been as difficult as was feared when the Service launched.

In a January 2012 survey before the Service was launched, the NFU and NatWest found that 34 per cent of farmers were concerned about the cost and over half were nervous about planning.

However, according to Fisher German, the approval rate for wind projects is very strong.

82 per cent of applications for smaller wind turbines (between 5 and 50kW) are approved at local level (Planning Committee or under Officers delegated powers).

Of the 18 per cent that do go to appeal, a further two thirds are also granted consent.

Medium sized turbines can take 18-24 months to get through planning but, even here, the success rate remains high with 85 per cent of the applications being granted planning permission.

Liberty Stones from Fisher German said: "National Planning Policy currently recognises that small scale renewable projects make a valuable contribution to cutting emissions and promotes the approval of such projects subject to their impacts being acceptable. Provided farmers receive the right support, planning is not the concern that many anticipate."

Scientific tools can also help make financing less of a concern. In July 2012, NatWest and RBS teamed up with the Met Office to provide farm prospects with tailored wind speed data, allowing farmers to assess the profitability of a wind turbine project early on and in great detail.

Altogether, the NFU estimates that, in 2012, one in five NFU members produced clean electricity from the sun and wind.

Download




Comments


27-02-2013 15:27 PM | Posted by: Hector G
This is sad. It's like we're being paid handsomely for a politicians ill thought out and inefficient ideological crop. Like others, though, I have been forced into accepting some of this stuff on my land purely for the money it brings in. I'd much rather turbines were eradicated, though, and that my region simply had a new nuclear power station. UKIP for me then.

03-04-2013 15:47 PM | Posted by: Zoe Forbes
How can saving the planet and getting paid generously for it be a bad thing? You only have to look at the billions they cost and Fukishima in Japan to see that nuclear is a bad idea.

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


13 July 2015
Harvest Worker/ Tractor Driver >>> Northamptonshire
Family farm with 1750 acre of combinable crops needs a skilled English speaking Harvest tractor driver. You will be carrying ...

16 May 2015
This job is Permanent assistant managers position on arable and poultry farm. North East
An exciting opportunity for a hard working, reliable person to assist me in the running of a large poultry and arable fa...

22 May 2015
Job for G F worker/milker on modern dairy farm in Cornwall
GFW/ milker required for job around yards looking after stock, bedding up etc as well as some milking. We need more help for ...

26 May 2015
Job for General farm worker - dairy farm in mid Wales
We are looking for an additional team member for our 200 cow pedigree high input housed herd.

We are looking for someone ...

13 July 2015
Job for Loader/Tractor Operator.>>> Biggleswade
Loader driver required on a large private arable estate during harvest. For grain intake and loading out operations...



Top stories you may have missed
15 May 2015 | Arable

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead is calling on the Europ...


15 May 2015 | Finance

As the country settles down following the turmoil of the general election, ...


14 May 2015 | Animal Health

New research from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge has found that ...


13 May 2015 | Animal Health

A new publication to help farmers prevent sheep lameness and offer advice o...


12 May 2015 | Agri Safety

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is putting the spotlight on Liver fluke at next...


5 May 2015 | News

The UK is now third in the global rankings for utility-scale solar energy a...


29 April 2015 | Agri Safety

A recent Rural Watch demonstration and information event gave Farmers’ Unio...


24 April 2015 | Meat Processing

Retailers should confirm their commitments to sourcing UK lamb this season,...


15 April 2015 | Meat Processing

A leading retailer has apologised after selling imported lamb in a Borders ...


9 April 2015 | Finance

The time has come for landlords to expect to see reductions in farm rents, ...