Monday, 9 July 2012

Wiltshire latest council to declare war on wind farms

Wiltshire latest council to declare war on wind farms

Wiltshire joins Lincolnshire in passing new restrictions designed to throw further planning barriers in front of wind farm developers

Wiltshire County Council has voted through controversial new proposals, which if enforced would effectively ban new wind farms from the county.

According to local media reports, the Conservative-led council last week approved restrictions that would require turbines that are more than 25m high to be built more than 1km away from any residential property, while larger turbines with a height of more than 150m would have to be located more than 3km from any home.

Conservative councils insisted the restrictions are necessary to counter safety risks posed by the small possibility of turbine blades breaking.

However, if followed the recommended distances are so large that much of the county's land would be unavailable to wind farm developers.

The vote represents the second time in the past month that a county council has approved tough new planning restrictions for wind farms, after Lincolnshire County Council backed planning guidance that recommends all wind farms within six miles of a village comprising more than 10 homes should be blocked.

The wind energy industry remains optimistic that such onerous planning requirements could "back fire" on councillors, as they require the support of the district councils who ultimately decide on the bulk of new wind farm planning applications.

"It is up to county councils to advise and district councils to make the final decision," said a spokesman for trade association RenewableUK. "Many district councils support measures to increase renewable energy capacity and are fiercely protective of their independence. Any attempt by county councils to introduce a blanket ban on new developments is undemocratic."
However, the new guidance in Wiltshire and Lincolnshire is likely to further entrench opposition to some wind farms and fears are mounting across the industry that further councils could put forward similar restrictions.
The news also comes just days after the final decision on two proposed wind farms in mid-Wales was handed to government ministers, after local planning authorities objected to the proposed developments.