Following the government’s announcement on 18 June 2015, confirming its intention to close the Renewables Obligation (the “RO”) early to onshore wind, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (“DECC”) published a policy paper on 7 July setting out its intentions in respect of the proposed grace period for certain projects.

Below is a summary of DECC’s intentions highlighted in the paper.

The Grace Period

If eligible to benefit from the grace period, projects will be able to accredit under the RO up to the original RO closing date of 31 March 2017. Eligible projects may also take advantage of the existing 12 month grace periods available where a project is subject to grid or aviation/radar delays.

The Criteria

To benefit from the grace period, projects will need to:

  • have the relevant planning consents in place and dated no later than 18 June 2015;
  • have a grid connection offer, and acceptance of that offer, both dated no later than 18 June 2015; and
  • provide a director’s certificate confirming that, as of 18 June 2015, the developer or proposed operator has certain property rights in respect of the land where the project is to be situated.

Developers will need to apply for the grace period once the required legislation is in force.

Anything else?

  • There will not be a formal consultation but views of the onshore wind industry are welcomed before DECC frames the terms of the legislation.
  • Views from developers whose projects are currently in the planning system but who are yet to receive formal planning consent are also welcomed.
  • The early closure of the RO to onshore wind, including effecting the grace period, are planned to be implemented via primary legislation later in this session of Parliament.

Finally

It should be noted that the above is merely a summary of DECC’s intentions and will only be finalised once the relevant legislation is in force. However, what may be of particular interest to some is DECC’s wish to hear the views of developers who have projects in the planning system as of 18 June but who had not yet received planning consent. Could this be an indicator that DECC may expand the grace period criteria to include such projects?