Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tougher Rules on Wind Turbines

I have written previously about how the proliferation of wind turbines across Cornwall is a blight upon our countryside, which is why I welcomed last week’s statement by the Department for Communities & Local Government announcing a shake-up of planning law that will now give local people the final say on wind farm applications.

Under these new rules, Cornwall Council will only be able to grant planning approval for new wind turbines if the proposed site has been identified as suitable in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan and if, following consultation, the concerns of  the communities affected have been fully addressed.

I think this is good news for Cornwall. When one of the country’s first wind farms was built at Carland Cross, it seemed like there was potential for these kind of developments, so long as they were of uniform design and concentrated in one area. However, since then it now feels like we have reached saturation point with the random proliferation of single wind turbines that have no uniformity in their design.

To be fair to Cornwall Council, where a wind turbine application has been shown to have too great a cumulative impact on the countryside, a planning committee has been able to refuse planning permission. However, too often Cornwall Council’s decisions have been overridden by appeals to the Planning Inspectorate. This is why I feel these new regulations are important as they put power back into the hands of local communities and gives them the ability to decide what wind developments are built in their area. The next step should be to do more to prevent field scale solar farms damaging our countryside and scarring the Cornish landscape.  

Having advised the Prime Minister on energy policy in the last parliament, I am well aware there are no easy solutions when it comes to our future energy supply. In reality we will probably need to have a mixture of different technologies, including gas, nuclear, wind and some solar on roof tops.  However, it is vital that these developments are done with local communities not to them.”