New planning guidance to give communities more say on solar and wind farms
Renewable energy developers need to take local communities’ concerns and environmental protection into account when planning projects, says new guide by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The guidance states that the need for clean energy does not automatically mean that the needs of local communities or the protection of heritage and environmental sites can be dismissed.
Landscape and heritage will be given “proper weight” under the guidance, when assessing an application for a wind or solar farm.
Local government secretary Eric Pickles said, “The views of local people must be listened to when making planning decisions. Meeting Britain’s energy needs should not be used to justify the wrong development in the wrong location.
“Planning always works best when local communities themselves have the opportunity to influence the decisions that affect their lives.”
Friends of the Earth’s planning campaigner Naomi Luhde-Thompson noted that the government concern on local communities does not apply equally when it comes to fracking.
“Under these proposals clean energy schemes such as wind turbines could be rejected on visual grounds, while fracking operations that threaten local communities and pollute our atmosphere could be given a virtual green light”, she said.
“It’s staggering that the minister has refused to insist on councils playing their part in developing renewable energy goals – unless everyone take urgent action, the UK will fail to meet its targets for slashing emissions.”
The guidance comes shortly after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) presented a proposal in June that would make it easier for communities to reject wind farms proposals.
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