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asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many of the wind turbines so far installed in the United Kingdom are covered by decommissioning agreements to take effect at the end of their working lives, requiring their dismantling and the restoration of the land by the removal of concrete bases and access roads.
Decommissioning conditions are applied to onshore wind farm planning permissions to ensure restoration of the site to the satisfaction of the local authority once the planning permission lifetime has expired. It is common practice for developers to enter into agreements pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to ensure funds are available for such decommissioning work.
The depth to which concrete bases should be dismantled and whether access roads should be included in the decommissioning will depend on such factors as the environmental conditions at the site and the utility of retaining access roads following decommissioning of the wind farm.
Decommissioning of offshore renewable energy installations (OREIs), including offshore wind farms, is governed by the regime set out under the Energy Act 2004 (EA 2004) which gives the Secretary of State the power to impose decommissioning requirements on any person who is party to a proposal to construct, extend or operate an OREI. This person must then provide the Secretary of State with information on decommissioning, including how they intend to remove the installation when it comes to the end of its useful life, and how they intend to pay for it. All OREIs consented after June 2006 are subject to these requirements. A small number of installations were consented prior to June 2006 and are not covered by the scope of the EA 2004 provisions. However these developments have decommissioning requirements contained within their lease from the Crown Estate, one of the necessary requirements for construction.