Good sense on wind farms

There was a good leading article in the Observer, echoing several CPRE concerns about the Government’s policy on wind farms.

Calling for ‘a more intelligent and nuanced debate,’ it says that the complexity and inconsistency surrounding planning decisions on onshore wind stems from ‘the lack of a coherent vision form the government about how many onshore turbines should be built’. The Government should recognise the ‘cumulative impact’ of wind turbines. It should also do much more to encourage energy efficiency.

This argument for ‘a comprehensive and consistent policy over renewables and the siting of onshore wind turbines’ is a pretty good summary of the arguments in CPRE’s report. The report was debated at a CPRE seminar last autumn.

The current policy confusion encourages wind developers to make applications almost regardless of landscape impact or whether there is much wind. Councils and local groups are overwhelmed by the number of applications, and developers often seem to be taking a punt in the hope of finding a weak local authority or a planning inspector who will give greater weight to national targets than to local concerns.

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill now going through Parliament proposes to remove planning powers from local authorities that lose too many planning appeals. Given the unpredictable nature of planning inspectors’ decisions, they will have an added incentive to nod through applications even if they think they are inappropriate.

It will always be hard to get local communities to agree to new energy infrastructure, but the confused policy framework for onshore wind seems almost designed to encourage opposition.

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