Monday, 14 April 2014

Onshore wind farm appeals are in a Pickle

It’s clear we’re on the run up to a General Election, as the Government has just announced a hardening of the rules on planning appeals for onshore wind farms.

In a bid to appeal to opponents of these developments, Eric Pickles has announced he will ‘recover’ all application appeals, effectively calling them in and taking responsibility for the final decision from the Planning Inspector.

The crackdown is an attempt to ensure Planning Inspectorate decisions are in line with government guidance that communities’ views on applications are taken into account.

Effectively taking the decision out of the hands of the community, and transferring it to Whitehall seems to fly in the face of localism, despite the rhetoric of seeking to make sure communities are listened to. The decision will also inevitably lead to further delays on applications and holding back investment in renewable technologies and the sector, not to mention the green electricity it could generate.

Since Eric Pickles announced in October that he was going to recover all appeals for six months, only one of 33 onshore wind appeals has been approved, many against the recommendations of the respective inspector.

With growing opposition to solar farms, how long will it be before Eric Pickles puts these developments in the firing line? 

One certainty about all this is the need for developers – whether wind or solar, both of which are proposed within the county – to actively engage with the local community at the earliest possible opportunity, and to seek the widest possible support before an application reaches a planning committee.

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