Wind farm ban ruled out by ministers

July 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

“Such policies might include minimum separation distances between centres of
population and new turbines.”

Last month, leading Conservatives promised that the guidance would effectively
end the spread of turbines, which have been blamed for blighting landscapes.
A senior Tory said at the time: “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.”

The guidance makes it clear that the need for green energy “does not
automatically override” environmental protections and local concerns. It
also orders officials to take into account topography, the effect on “views”
and historic sites and assess the “cumulative impact of wind turbines” amid
fears that some areas are being overwhelmed by applications.

However, Whitehall sources tonight said the guidelines were fairly similar to
previous ones and would not amount to a community veto on wind farms.

Andrew Geary, the Conservative leader of Milton Keynes council, said the
council would have to reconsider its efforts to ban wind turbines taller
than 125 metres near residential areas.

He said the environmental considerations sounded “encouraging” but the
decision to stop councils specifying a minimum distance between turbines and
homes was “more than a little disappointing”.

Martin Hill, the Conservative leader of Lincolnshire council, also welcomed
the “positive aspects” to the guidance, but said the ruling against
“separation distances” was “regrettable”. He said: “It’s very reasonable to
say 130-metre high industrial structures should not be within a certain
distance of houses.”

Tory MPs also expressed their frustration at the ruling against buffer zones.

Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, who last year tried to bring in laws
stopping wind farms being built less than 2km from housing, said each area
should be free to set minimum distances between dwellings and turbines. He
said councils were best placed to know where wind farms would have a
“devastating impact on a community”.

Glyn Davies, MP for Montgomeryshire, also said any ruling against “buffer
zones” was a “backward step”. He said: “The Government should not make it
more difficult for people trying to stop wind turbines destroying their
lives.”

The renewable energy industry welcomed the guidance. Maf Smith, deputy chief
executive of RenewableUK, said the Government agreed with the industry view
that each site “needs to be looked at on its own merits, not through blanket
arbitrary criteria”.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change last night
suggested the guidance would make little difference. “Onshore wind planning
applications will only be accepted where the impacts are, or can be made,
acceptable. This guidance will help to ensure that proper weight is given to
factors such as heritage sites and visual impact.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the guidance
“represents a significant increase in protection for England’s heritage and
landscape, ensuring that the local environment and local amenity is given
the protection it deserves.”

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