Changes introduced by Conservatives this month will help shift the balance of power and strengthen community power against unwanted onshore wind turbine proposals that have threatened local communities in Lichfield District and Tamworth Borough. These changes will:
· Give local people much earlier and better involvement in turbine plans
· Ensure a five-fold increase in benefits to be paid by developers to local communities
· Provide planning guidance to make clear need for renewable energy does not automatically override concerns of local communities
New planning guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government will make clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities. It will give greater weight to landscape and visual impact concerns.
Households will also get a generous reduction in their energy bills, if they allow wind farms to be built in their local area. For some families, this could help them save up to £400 a year.
The law will be changed to make consultation with local communities compulsory for the more significant onshore wind projects, before planning permission is applied for. This will guarantee that local people can have their say at an earlier stage in more cases.
Where local councils have identified areas suitable for wind farm projects they will not be obliged to give planning permission if they think the impact on the local area will be unacceptable.
Commenting, local MP Christopher Pincher said:
“Last year I supported my colleague Chris Heaton-Harris MP in writing to the Prime Minister to campaign to end the subsidisation of unwanted wind farms opposed on communities, as inspectors cite renewable energy targets as being more important than community considerations. I am pleased to say that the Government has taken these concerns into account in its new proposals.
“I think we need to send a clear message to developers that while we recognise the importance of renewable energy, including onshore wind as a component of our overall energy mix, the impact on our communities and the benefits to local people must take precedent over nationally set targets. I am confident that these changes will be effective to this end”.
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