The Energy Bill and the early closure of the Renewables Obligation for Onshore Wind - Update

This is an update to our article on the Energy Bill published on 16 March 2016.

29 March 2016

This is an update to our article on the Energy Bill published on 16 March 2016. View it here

The Energy Bill has now been through the Report Stage and Third Reading in the House of Commons. This took place on Monday 14 March 2016 and amendments tabled on behalf of renewables industry bodies were ultimately defeated.

The next stage of the Bill will be consideration by the House of Lords of the amendments made in the House of Commons. The date announced for this is 12 April 2016.

It will be interesting to see the approach the House of Lords take given the early closure and grace period drafting approved by the Commons is largely identical to the wording that was previously rejected by the Lords amid criticism that this was unfair and would leave many deserving projects stranded with no support.

The Government’s intention was for the Bill to receive Royal Assent by 31 March 2016 however given that the next stage of the Bill will not take place until 12 April, this target date for Royal Assent is clearly no longer possible.

During the debate at the Report Stage and Third Reading Andrea Leadsom (Minister of State at DECC) confirmed that “if Royal Assent for the Bill goes beyond 31 March, the Government intend the provisions to come into force from the date of Royal Assent and do not intend to backdate them”.  Lorde Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DECC) tabled amendments on 23 March which would have the effect of preserving this principle of not backdating the provisions. Lord Bourne’s amendments would also have an impact on the length of some of the grace periods (namely the Approved Development Grace Period would effectively be shortened and the Investment Freezing Grace Period would be extended by 1 month).

This is clearly an important issue for the onshore wind industry and we are monitoring the Bill’s progress very closely. Watch this space for further updates and feel free to come and see us at Stand Q60 at All-Energy 2016 in Glasgow on the 4 and 5 May by which point the Bill may have become the Energy Act 2016.