Report (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 21st October 2015.

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Photo of Lord Hardie Lord Hardie Judge 5:15 pm, 21st October 2015

My Lords, I also want to draw attention to the fact that this legislation is unfair. Contrary to the statement of the Minister in the other place referred to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, I would point out that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, mentioned an example on the Isle of Skye. Perhaps I may give the House some more detail about it. There is a development on Skye called the Glen Ullinish wind farm which was granted planning consent in March 2015. That was before the general election and may even have been before the manifesto, and it was certainly well within the current deadline. The local community, with one exception, supported this proposal. The developers, Kilmac Construction, have had a grid connection contract in place since 2011 and have been making annual contributions to the grid to secure their position. They would otherwise have constructed the site and made connection to the grid before the deadline of December 2018, but they are not able to do so through no fault of their own. The connection date has been given as 2021 and the reason for the delay is that, to secure the supply in the west of Scotland, it is necessary to reinforce and upgrade 124 kilometres of line in the Highlands, which this project will facilitate. If the infrastructure had existed, the wind farm would have been constructed and connected in time.

These developers have invested over £1 million and a considerable amount of time and effort in securing the necessary planning permission, grid connection contract and land ownership permissions to ensure that they can comply with government deadlines. They have only been prevented from doing so by the grid infrastructure problem. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has been aware of this case since 1 September 2015, when the developers wrote to her explaining the circumstances in full. Will the Minister tell the House that the Government will extend the period of grace in this very exceptional case, where the developer is unable to comply with the timescale through no fault of its own? If he is unable to give assurance on this, the appropriate course would be, in the interests of fairness, to remove Clause 66 at this stage, to allow the Government time to reflect on this anomaly and introduce an amendment in the House of Commons, if they wish. This would not, as has been suggested, wreck the Bill. It passes it on to the Commons, where proper consideration can be given to this matter which is so important for the people of Skye.