Michael Fabricant has welcomed changes made on Thursday 6th June in how planning is granted to where future wind farms will be located. “Over the last few years, a number of inappropriate applications have been made to site either a giant windmill or extensive windfarms near Lichfield. One in particular, near Curborough, would have been more visible than the spires of Lichfield Cathedral – and far less attractive.
“Changes introduced by the Government will now give people a much greater say over wind farms in their communities, shifting the balance of power to local communities in deciding whether to agree to onshore windfarms.
“New planning guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government will make clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities. It will give greater weight to landscape and visual impact concerns, especially for heritage sites. The law will be changed to make consultation with local communities compulsory for the more significant onshore wind projects, before planning permission is applied for. This will guarantee that local people can have their say at an earlier stage in more cases.
“Where local councils, like Lichfield District, have identified areas suitable for wind farm projects, they will not be obliged to give planning permission if they think the impact on the local area will be unacceptable. Local people and their councils should not feel bullied into accepting proposals they do not want.
“The new rules make clear the concerns of communities must be heard and give back to people willing to have wind farms in their local area, saving some families up to £400 a year on their energy bills provided it does not destroy the environment for others” Michael adds.
The Department for Communities and Local Government will be issuing revised technical planning guidance to assist local councils, planning inspectors in their consideration of local plans and individual planning applications for onshore wind. This will set out clearly that:
Arguments for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities; Decisions should take into account the cumulative impact of wind turbines and properly reflect the increasing impact on the landscape and local amenity as the number of turbines in the area increases; Local topography should be a factor in assessing whether wind turbines have a damaging impact on the landscape (i.e. recognise that the impact on predominantly flat landscapes, like the Fens, can be as great or greater as on hilly or mountainous ones); and Great care should be taken to ensure heritage assets are conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance, including the impact of proposals on views important to their setting.