Onshore wind worth £900m to UK economy, report finds

A new report released today (29 April) has revealed that the UK's onshore wind industry contributed £906m to the UK economy last year, of which almost 30% directly benefits local areas.

The report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics for RenewableUK, shows the industry’s contribution to the UK economy is increasing, having risen by 65% (£358mn) since 2012. It also shows that each megawatt of installed onshore wind has brought more than £2m to the UK over its lifetime, of which 69% is remaining in the UK. 

The figures also reveal the increasing commitment by onshore developers to ensure local areas benefit from development, as 27% of the economic benefits of onshore wind are enjoyed in the local area around each project.

Commenting on the report’s findings, RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “The British onshore wind energy industry is adding over £900 million a year to the national economy, so the benefits to the UK are clear to see.

“This report also shows that £7 of every £10 spent on onshore wind projects is invested here in the UK. Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199m of investment into the local communities that host wind farms and creating jobs across the supply chain.”

The report shows that almost half of the total spend to develop an onshore wind farm is retained in the region in which a wind farm is located (48%), rising from 36% during the two-year construction stage to 58% during operation and maintenance.

Halt the spread

McCaffrey added: “Onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options and is set to become the least cost form of all electricity within the next five years. Despite these facts, onshore wind projects are under threat from misguided Tory and UKIP policies aimed at stifling their development, blatantly disregarding rational economic evidence and consistently high levels of public support.”

The Conservatives confirmed in their election manifesto earlier this month their controversial plans to effectively halt the onshore wind industry by ending subsidies and changing the planning system. David Cameron’s party cited a ‘failure to win public support’ as one of the reasons for the decision.

“Renewable UK have produced a very useful report, for the first time putting hard numbers on the local benefits that wind energy brings,” Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: “This shows clearly that not only is wind power decentralised in terms of its location and connection to the grid, but its economic benefits are decentralised, too – they are shared in a way that we just don’t see in non-renewable technologies.”

“We won’t see fracking, for example, provide anything like 27% of its economic benefits to local communities. It’s another one of the wonderful things that wind energy brings – couple this with polls consistently showing its popularity among British people, and you have to wonder why on earth the Conservatives are intent on ending it.”

Lucinda Dann

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