A Yorkshire farming couple has received a landmark compensation payout for a “faulty” wind turbine.
In a breakthrough case which could pave the way for further compensation claims, Terry and Gail Beaumont settled their claim out of court.
In 2010, the retired couple, who run a small-scale alpaca breeding farm in Cumberworth, paid about £40,000 for a 10kW wind turbine.
The turbine was manufactured by Evoco Energy Limited and resold by Newgen Renewables Limited.
At the time, Newgen Renewables claimed the Beaumonts would see a return on investment of about £250,000, or £12,000/year, by selling electricity generated from the turbine to the National Grid.
The couple were told they would be able to take advantage of “green” incentives in the government’s Feed-in Tariffs (Fits) scheme.
However, shortly after installation of the turbine in early 2011, it experienced technical problems, prompting repeated visits to the farm by Evoco’s engineers, who attempted to carry out upgrades and fit replacement parts.
In January 2012, the blades of a wind turbine owned by the Beaumonts’ neighbours dislodged and became embedded in a dry stone wall.
As a result, the manufacturer deemed its products unsafe and the Beaumonts’ wind turbine was one of about 170 which were turned off. It had generated just £7,000 in the six operational months of its 13-month lifespan.
In late 2012, when the manufacturer and reseller stopped responding to the couple, the Beaumonts started legal proceedings.
Last year, faced with complaints and the threat of legal action from other owners of defective wind turbines, Evoco went into liquidation.
Birmingham-based Rubric Lois King Solicitors took up the Beaumonts’ case against Evoco’s insurers. It was settled out of court at the end of March – just weeks before a scheduled High Court hearing.
Terry Beaumont said: “My wife and I are thrilled to have reached a settlement at what feels like the eleventh hour.
“It’s as though a weight has been lifted and, after all the stress and worry about how we would fund our retirement without the promised return on investment from the wind turbine, this is the result we had hoped for.
“The manufacturers warned us – and other wind turbine owners – against taking legal action, as they were adamant it would force them into liquidation. According to them, we would all then be left with ‘expensive garden ornaments’.
“When Evoco did eventually go into liquidation, we felt all hope was lost. However, we had the support of a great legal team which was prepared to take our case to the High Court to fight for our right to compensation and to recoup our losses.
“We now feel we can move forward with our lives and we can finally put the misery of the last five years behind us.”