An expert’s view of the wind farm issue

New laws could boost onshore wind farm approvals, say experts

Borrowed from http://www.planningresource.co.uk article by Susanna Gillman Monday, 09 May 2011 (hope they don’t mind!)

New planning legislation could be used to boost the approval of onshore wind farms under a recommendation from the Government’s climate change committee.

The committee has told the Government that further approvals will be required to deliver the onshore wind ambition in its renewable energy strategy.

The Government has set a target of 15 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020.

But approval rates for onshore wind projects have historically been low, with less than 50 per cent of schemes getting the go ahead and the planning period taking around two years.

In its renewable energy review, the Committee on Climate Change said even with a push for more community-led wind farm projects, there is a “significant risk that onshore wind and transmission investments will not gain local public support, given high levels of resistance from some groups”.

It concludes that achieving higher rates of approval will need central government decisions, “possibly under new planning legislation that explicitly sets this out”.

The committee, which was requested to advise on the scope to increase ambition for green energy, said renewables should make a 30-45 per cent contribution by 2030. More than 6GW could come from onshore wind through the 2020s, it suggests.

Onshore wind is also likely to be one of the cheapest low-carbon options, according to the committee. Offshore wind schemes are still expensive and should not be increased unless there is clear evidence of cost reduction, it warned.

Nuclear power is currently the most cost-effective of the low carbon technologies, and should form part of the mix assuming safety concerns can be addressed, it added.

Nick Medic, spokesman for Renewable UK, trade body for the wind and marine renewables industries, said rather than creating more legislation a better approach would be to make a case for the economic benefits of onshore wind to local communities.

A DECC spokesman said energy secretary Charles Hendry has stressed the need for greater local ownership so communities can see the benefits of wind farms as part of the future energy mix.

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