This may come as a surprise to many, but according to an industry survey, there are few places where you can erect a turbine faster than Britain.

The European Wind energy Association quizzed developers from across the continent and found that the average time to receive the thumbs up from the authorities for onshore wind was 42 months with the UK pitching in at seventh place with an average wait of just short of 27 months.

Finland offered a phenomenal average wait of just 8.25 months, with Austria coming in just behind at ten months while at the other end of the scale those wanting to put up turbines in Spain and Portugal would have to wait almost five years to get a decision (57.7 and 58 months on average respectively).

It is, predictably, much quicker to get permission for an offshore wind project with the EU average there standing at just 18.5 months.

The Wind Barriers survey also looked at how many authorities had to be contacted during the permissions process, finding a wide range from just five (Denmark) to over 40 (Greece).

Again, the UK fared fairly well here with an average of 15 authorities needing to be consulted – a low to moderate amount of red tape by European standards.

The study suggested there is not a direct correlation between the length of time it takes to get permission and the number of authorities that need to be contacted, however, citing Spain as one of the countries with the least number authorities that need to be contacted (only nine), but also one of the slowest.

“If Europe is serious about reaching 20% renewables by 2020 some member states need to streamline their consent procedures for wind farms,” said Justin Wilkes, EWEA policy director.

“There are a number of actions all Member States could take: creating a one stop shop approach for contacting the different authorities, writing clear guidelines for developers, and introducing better and streamlined spatial planning procedures.

“Implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive provides a real opportunity for targeted action in certain EU countries,” he said.

He acknowledged that the experience in the offshore sector is, so far, more positive.

“A number of countries with offshore wind farms have developed an efficient decision making process for this sector,” said Mr Wilkes.

“Thereby reducing the complexity for offshore wind developers.”

Sam Bond

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