Wind power hits locals barrier

Wednesday 13th Jul 2011 by theWeather club

It seems that the Governments aims to radically increase the amount of energy generated by wind power may have hit a stumbling block, and a serious one at that. While the sea based wind farms are charging ahead with projects like The London Array -the biggest wind farm in the world- well underway, it is an entirely different prospect for the land based industry. According to data obtained by law firm McGrigors, the percentage of onshore wind installations being refused planning permission is rising steadily. The number has risen from 29% in 2005, to 33% in 2009 and reached 48% in 2010 with 32 out of 66 applications being turned down.

The problem is that for government targets of one third of the UK's electricity to be generated through renewable sources by 2020, thousands of onshore wind farms need to be built. McGrigors partner Jacqueline Harris said that this level of planning refusals could derail these climate change targets. She continued that the problem would get worse with the Localism Bill that gives more planning power back to communities comes into force. "We are dealing with an increasing number of complaints and appeals from wind-farm developers who are concerned that attitudes towards wind energy are hardening, particularly at a local level where they feel they do not get a balanced hearing." Ms. Harris continued. "There is little willingness to consider the benefits of renewable energy generation in context – the national interest is being overridden by local concerns."

Greg Clark, the Planning Minister, took issue with Ms. Harris's view insisting that the Localism Bill would ensure planning applications are drawn up in partnership with the community and will therefore boost the industry. "We're putting reforms in place that will deliver an efficient planning system that still supports sustainable growth and green energy developments, but rightly gives communities a say in the planning of their local area."

Nick Medic, Head of Communications at RenewableUK, "Every refused wind farm planning application is a missed opportunity to secure employment and business benefits at a local level, and to further deliver on our energy security and climate change target," he said. He also floated the idea of local communities being given a share of profits from wind farms.

Whatever your view, the debate about how this 'green and pleasant land' should generate more 'green and low cost energy' is set to rumble on for some time to come.