Planning guidance boost for windfarm objectors

PLANS to give communities a bigger say in the location of onshore windfarm have been welcomed by a campaign group.

The Government announced last week that new planning guidance 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 and residents will receive support to gain the skills they need to enable them to engage more confidently with developers.

In addition, the Government will make pre-application consultation with local communities compulsory for the more significant onshore wind applications.

The relevant ministers are currently notifying the Planning Inspectorate and councils that the new guidance will become available shortly.

The Tranwell Windfarm Action Group (TWAG) – made up of people living in Meldon, Mitford, Morpeth, Stannington and Whalton – is opposing plans by Wind Ventures for four turbines up to 126metres high on a site at the former Tranwell Airfield.

Karen Carins, who is a leading member of the group, said: “We are delighted with the new stance the Government is taking on this issue.

“Although we cannot be complacent, we hope that these new rulings will stop any more badly-located windfarms being erected.

“Proximity to residents is our main concern because people do not locate to the countryside to then have an industrial development built on their doorstep. It causes stress and damages their quality of life.

“There are many other problems concerning grid connect-ability, the Green Belt, the cumulative effect and visual impact.

“The opposition to windfarms, contrary to what is published in some quarters, is not connected to any political party affiliation. It is ordinary citizens who are spending an extraordinary amount of time researching as much as they can about wind turbines and raising money to oppose them.”

The announcement also includes a directive to the wind turbine industry to increase the recommended community benefit package in England from £1,000/MW of installed capacity per year to £5,000/MW per year for the lifetime of the windfarm.