Thursday, 6 June 2013

Wind farm planning rules to change giving local people more power

Today in the House of Commons it is to be announced that, in future, residents will have to be consulted properly over new wind farms with applications barred if there is significant opposition. Councils are currently struggling to prevent wind farms down to a combination of the lack of the Local Development Plan and planning guidance that is generally very pro wind farms even where there is considerable local objection.
The flip side, which is a good thing, is that under the plans, energy firms will be able to offer genuine local “incentives” – such as discounts on electricity bills – to persuade communities to agree to new wind farms.

In addition, when planning applications are submitted, officials will have to take into account topography and the impact on “views” and historic sites. Inspectors will also have to assess the “cumulative impact of wind turbines” amid fears that some areas are being overwhelmed by applications.

Currently, it is fair to say that the strong feeling in Northumberland is that the random application of sporadic wind farms, without an overall plan, is contrary to the wishes of most people - who see a remote energy company and a single farmer benefiting, to the detriment of all the rest of a local community, who then have to pay higher energy bills to pay for the subsidy. It is not that I or local people are fundamentally against wind power - it is just that the planning rules and Local Authority guidance and the community benefit are completely out of kilter. I will post the full statement here when it goes online