Wind turbines – a stick and carrot approach

Review highlights major role for renewables in meeting UK climate targets The Committee on Climate Change said today (9th May) in a 166 page report, that renewable energy should make a major contribution to decarbonising theUK economy over the next decades.

The executive summary, only 30 pages, has some worrying comments for those wish to resist the march of the wind turbine across the British landscape.  However, it does also suggest that those communities that do accept (suffer) them, should be able to benefit financially. 

Page 28

The planning framework for onshore wind and transmission

Planning approval rates for onshore wind projects have historically been low (e.g. less than 50%), and the period for approval long (e.g. almost two years). This reflects an implicit social preference for investment in more expensive renewable technologies, given concerns (held by some but not all people) about the visual impact of onshore wind developments.

However, further approvals will be required in order to deliver the onshore wind ambition in the Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy.

Additional approvals beyond this level offer scope for reducing the cost of meeting the 2020 renewable energy target and the cost of power sector decarbonisation through the 2020s (e.g. our analysis suggests scope to add over 6 GW of onshore wind capacity through the 2020s).

In addition, planning approval will be required for transmission investments to support increased renewable generation and sector decarbonisation. International experience suggests that approaches which achieve community buy-in to onshore wind projects through sharing financial benefits have helped support high levels of investment; it is appropriate that such approaches will be tested in theUK.

However, even with such approaches, 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.

Achieving higher rates of approval for onshore wind projects and for required investments in the transmission network is therefore likely to require central government decisions in line with national priorities as defined by carbon budgets, possibly under new planning legislation that explicitly sets this out.

If you would like to read the whole thing for yourself, here is the link

Stupid stupid stupid

I like using film quotes to mimic what’s going on in real life; I just wish I could remember more of them.  However, one does keep coming back to me time and time again since the coalition government came to power and decided to mess about with the planning system – again!

The quote I’m thinking of comes from the 1997 Matt Damon and Danny Divto film called Rainman and goes some thing like, ‘you must be stupid stupid stupid’.  The whole quote is (just in case you’re interested) and read out by an insurance company executive whilst under cross examination:   “Dear Mrs. Black. On seven prior occasions this company has denied your claim in writing. We now deny it for the eighth and final time. You must be stupid stupid stupid. Sincerely, Evert Luftkin, Vice President, Claims Department.”

I could quite happily rewrite this to apply to those in government, who keep sniping and criticising the planning system and blaming all the ills of the country on it.  Don’t get me wrong, the system’s not perfect far from it and if I were somebody trying to get a planning permission and finding myself fighting an uphill battle, I might well have the same attitude – it’s all the b***dy planners fault.

However, those in government who are so critical, should actually know better, after all it they (the government of the day) and not the planners, who write the rules; the planners merely interpret and implement them via local policies.  It’s also worth remembering that those policies are approved by local politicians and not planners

So, Dear Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne, Me Cable, Mr Pickles, Mr Neill, Mr Clark and even Mr Shapps (who seems happy to use Eric Pickles as his rolling, sorry I meant roving, assassin), on at least seven prior occasions, the planners have written to you refuting your claims.  We now write to you again, for the umpteenth and final time to tell you the same thing. You must be …………..Sincerely, a profession trying to do your bidding.

So, ministers, stop whinging on about how it’s all somebody else’s fault, put your pens where your mouths are and get YOUR planning legislation changed.  Then perhaps those of us at the sharp end, who are trying make some sense of the mess you’ve made of it so far, can get on with making it work – again!