Trade association RenewableUK has condemned communities secretary Eric Pickles for his “unprecedented interference” in renewable energy projects after Pickles intervened in 50 wind farm planning applications since January 2013.
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It was revealed in June that Pickles had turned down the majority of wind farm applications put forward to him, including those that had been recommended by planning inspectors. The communities secretary has faced criticism for his stance on wind energy and has been accused of having double standards in regards to planning decisions for wind farms and fracking.
Earlier this year it was announced that Pickles had extended the period in which he could block wind farm proposals for an additional year. The industry reacted angrily, with RenewableUK describing the changes as a “costly mistake” and “anti-business”.
Pickles has now intervened in 50 wind farm planning applications. Of these, decisions have been reached on 19 projects, with Pickles approving just two of them despite five of those he turned down had beeen approved by the Planning Inspectorate.
RenewableUK argues that the 50 projects would have added 520 megawatts of energy capacity to the UK – enough to power more than 275,000 homes – and would have been worth £581 million to local economies.
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, commented, “Fifty interventions for onshore wind means higher bills for UK consumers, goes against public demand for renewable energy, and holds back action on climate change.
“These sites would have meant half a billion pounds in local investment creating over 2,000 jobs. Eric Pickles is clearly relaxed about such unprecedented intervention in the planning system.”
Smith continue that Pickles has “politicised” what should be an independent and impartial planning system by making 98% of wind farm appeal decisions himself.
Photo: Nicola Jones via Flickr