Queen's £38m a year windfarm windfall

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sun Oct 24 19:55:07 BST 2010

How much the European Monarchies cost:
- Great Britain £68m
- Holland £33.8m
- Norway £23.9m
- Belgium £11.7m
- Denmark £10.5m
- Sweden £10.2m
- Spain £7.4m
- Luxembourg £7.2m

Queen's £38m a year windfarm windfall
Wind farms: Set to make Royal family £38m a year
By Martin Delgado and Christopher Leake - 24 October 2010, 11:28am
The Royal Family have secured a lucrative deal 
that will earn them tens of millions of pounds 
from the massive expansion of offshore windfarms.

They will net up to £37.5m extra income every 
year from the drive for green energy because the 
seabed within Britain's territorial waters is owned by the Crown Estate.

Under new measures announced by Chancellor George 
Osborne last week, the Royals will soon get 15% 
of the profits from the Estate's £6bn property 
portfolio, rather than the existing Civil List arrangement.

Experts predict the growth in offshore windfarms 
could be worth up to £250m a year to the Crown Estate.

There are already 436 turbines in operation 
around the UK's 7,700-mile coastline – but within 
a decade that number is set to reach nearly 7,000.

Prince Charles is a vociferous campaigner for 
renewable energy sources such as these, but is 
opposed to turbines being erected on land – particularly near his own homes.

He has described windfarms as a 'horrendous blot 
on the landscape' and has refused to have any 
built at his Highgrove home or on the Duchy of 
Cornwall estate. But he has expressed enthusiasm for siting them offshore.

The Crown Estate said profits from windfarms in 
Britain's territorial waters – which extend 
almost 14 miles from the coast – could rise to 
£100m a year, giving the Royals £15m.

But industry experts said this was an 
under-estimate and that the true figure was 
likely to be nearer £250m by 2020, with £37.5m for the Royals.

They currently receive about £30m a year from the 
Civil List and other grants – a figure that will 
be frozen until 2012 when it will be replaced by 
the new mechanism, called the Sovereign Support Grant.

The level was calculated based on the Crown 
Estate's current annual profit of £211m – 15% of 
which would be in line with current income. But 
if the experts are correct about windfarm 
returns, the Monarchy's budget would more than double, to around £68m.

The canny boost to Royal finances was quietly 
slipped through as part of last week's Comprehensive Spending Review.

In what one source described last night as a 
'masterstroke' by the Prince's closest adviser 
Sir Michael Peat, 250 years of history was 
overturned by scrapping the arrangement under 
which taxpayers' money has been used to fund the 
Royals and pay for the upkeep of their palaces.

The Civil List – which has financed the Monarchy 
since King George III surrendered all revenues 
from the Crown Estate after running up massive 
debts – meant the Royal finances were accountable 
to Parliament, but the Sovereign Support Grant will avoid such scrutiny.

Old Etonian accountant Sir Michael, 60, Charles's 
Principal Private Secretary, is the former Keeper 
of the Privy Purse at Buckingham Palace. He is 
the great-grandson of the founder of accountancy firm Peat Marwick.

'There is nothing Michael does not know about 
Royal finances,' said a source. 'His depth of 
knowledge will have been invaluable. Charles has 
always believed the money from the Crown Estate 
was taken away from the family. Now they have got 
it back. One could say they have pulled a fast one.'

Last month, the Prince visited an exhibition in 
Wales about offshore energy. David Jones, of 
Marine Energy Pembrokeshire, said the Prince had 
asked a number of questions about wind-driven technology.

'Charles seemed enthused about the potential for 
marine energy in Pembrokeshire. He asked about 
how the devices worked, where they would be 
deployed and whether there was public and governmental support.'

By 2020, 6,400 turbines – each one rising 500ft 
above the sea – are expected to be in operation 
around the UK coastline. Household energy bills 
will have to rise to pay for the £75 billion 
expansion, which has been described as one of the 
biggest engineering projects in recent history.

The EU has told Britain it must generate more of 
its energy needs from renewable sources. But 
critics say the plan to increase Britain's 
dependence on green energy is flawed and could 
leave homes and business suffering routine power cuts within five years.

Sir Martin Holdgate, former chief scientist at 
the Department for the Environment, said: 'There 
is pressure to act on climate change. But when 
you look at the cost per unit, it is a rather 
expensive way of providing electricity.'

In its latest accounts, the Crown Estate says 
that its offshore windfarm business is 
'experiencing exponential growth and we expect it 
to provide a significant source of total income in the next ten years'.

Revenue to the Estate from the windfarms rose by 
44% last year to a 'low base' of £2.6m.

But with the third round of contracts handed out 
in January, companies bidding for the work say a bonanza is on the horizon.

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