Locals to get wind farm veto

Daily Telegraph 6th June 2013

By Robert Winnett, Political Editor

LOCAL communities will be given the power to block wind farms under planning rules to be unveiled today.
Senior Conservatives claim the move will effectively end the spread of the controversial turbines which have been blamed for blighting picturesque landscapes.
Ministers will announce that residents will have to be consulted over new wind farms with applications barred if there is significant opposition.
Councils are currently prevented from even considering applications for larger turbines.
However, under the plans, energy firms will be able to offer “incentives” – such as discounts on electricity bills – to persuade communities to agree to new wind farms.
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, councils can be forced to accept new wind farms as national planning guidance states that renewable energy schemes should usually be permitted.
A senior Conservative source said: “The Prime Minister strongly feels that this is a real local issue and if people don’t want to have wind farms they don’t have to have them. This is a bombproof set of safeguards to protect the wishes of local people.”
Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, will today announce that legal planning guidance is to be altered and he will write to all councils and the Planning Inspectorate demanding that they use the new principles in current decisions.
Last night, Mr Pickles said: “We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity.”
Despite senior Conservatives heralding the end of new onshore wind farms, the Liberal Democrats – including the Energy Secretary – believe that the new system of incentives could actually lead to an increase in turbines.
The Energy Department says that a community agreeing to a modest wind farm could see their power bills fall by an average of £400 per household.
Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said: “We remain committed to the deployment of appropriately sited onshore wind, as a key part of a diverse, low-carbon and secure energy mix and committed to an evidence-based approach to supporting low carbon power.
“This is an important sector that is driving economic growth, supporting thousands of new jobs and providing a significant share of our electricity and I’m determined that local communities should share in these benefits.”

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