Agricultural Consultants, Agri Environment and Accountancy Services

Wind Farm Advice

What are the issues when you are approached by a windfarm developer looking for an option to lease some of your land to build a wind turbine or turbines as part of a larger windfarm development?
  • Probably the primary matter is only to deal with a company which has a proven track record in windfarm development.
  • Allied to that is how the project is to be financed and the conditions laid down by the lender.
  • It would help to be convinced if possible that the overall project has a realistic chance of success – for example, is a grid connection available?.
  • After that, you need advice from someone with experience in advising farmers in relation to these matters – preferably someone who knows both the wind electricity business and the agriculture business – such as an agricultural consultant who is experienced in this area.
  • You need a solicitor familiar with both general agricultural legal issues and drafting windfarm options and leases.
  • You need an accountant who can advise you in relation to income and capital taxation.

Options and leases will be drawn up by the windfarm developer's solicitors, who may not be aware of all of the regulations which farmers must comply with, particularly in their dealings with the Departments of Agriculture and of the Environment and with their own banks. Compliance with Single Farm Payment regulations, Disadvantaged Area Payments, R.E.P.S., A.E.O.S., Afforestation Schemes and S.I. No 456 of 2011 can all be impacted on through the development of a windfarm on a farmer's lands, and payment to the farmer under these schemes will be affected.

Developers differ in the option and lease payment systems which they offer and there may be substantial differences in payment received by the landowner. Not all windfarm developments are straightforward and where a turbine or turbines must be shared between two or more farmers, a fair method of payment must be agreed between the participating farmers in advance of signing an option to lease, to avoid bad feeling between neighbours for the following 20 or more years.

In many windfarm developments, developers will be pressing farmers to sign options quickly in order that planning permission can be applied for. A wind turbine or turbines on your land should be treated as an alternative enterprise which will improve the income on your farm. You and your neighbours should pool your resources to get the best possible agricultural, accountancy and legal advice to ensure a good return on this new enterprise in the years to come. A united approach will always achieve better results in comparison to each individual farmer fighting his or her own battle.

A windfarming developer can also benefit from the involvement of an agricultural consultant, an accountant and a solicitor who are experienced in advising landowners on these matters, as it will help minimise future problems, will ensure a fair deal for the landowners and will dispense with unrealistic expectations which can arise, and allowing the development to proceed at a faster pace.

For further information contact David Walsh B.Agr.Sc.

David Walsh 086 833 8329
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