In the past few months, a number of high-profile cases have come to the fore in which communities have opposed the erecting of windfarms near their homes for aesthetic and nature-related reasons.
However, while this is often an opposition that has been ignored, such as in the recent case in Wilpshire, Lancashire where the planning inspector ruled that the installation of three 46-foot turbines would have a minimal aesthetic effect on the area, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles wants communities to have more say.
Regulations to benefit communities and investors
Under new regulations due to be brought in, Pickles said that investors in onshore windfarms will be required to consult members of the public with regards to their proposals before they even put a planning application in place.
“We are making sure local people have a crystal clear voice in airing their opinions on wind turbines very early on. From day one communities should be centre stage in crafting plans that affect their lives instead of having them forced upon them,” he said.
However, if the proposals should be given the green light, it will not just be communities that benefit, with Pickles stating that it would save investors money by ensuring they do not put funding behind projects doomed to fail.
“Ensuring communities have a greater say at an early stage allows developers to consider much earlier whether to pursue a proposal and what changes they should consider before putting forward formal plans.
“Our changes allow people’s views and other impacts to be taken into consideration much earlier. The new rules will apply to all wind farms with more than two turbines, or with turbines that are more than 15 metres tall. Similar rules already apply to bigger wind farms.”
Tories will not have a say over farms
While these are large-scale changes to the way windfarm applications are made, Pickles’ proposals stopped short of imposing one element that many had expected to see – the Conservatives being given the right to veto any windfarm proposals.
There has been some controversy regarding the technology and many in the party see “limited potential” in its use, including Prime Minister David Cameron.
This has led to fears that the government would be able to slow down the growth in the use of wind technology across the country in order to push on with more controversial energy production methods such as fracking and nuclear power stations, both of which it is known to back.