Last week  the Government announced that it will allow applications from business and commercial projects to be determined at national level, avoiding local level decisions.

However, at the beginning of June the Government announced that planning guidelines would give local communities earlier and better involvement in the siting of onshore wind farms.

Ecotricity founder, Dale Vince, said: “At the beginning of June, the government announced that it was going to give “local communities a greater say on planning” and as evidence of its apparent commitment to localism, it issued yet another set of planning guidelines that meant local communities had greater opportunity to veto onshore wind projects – this was supposed to be what Eric Pickles called “localism in action”.

“Now, barely three weeks later, the government has announced that it is to allow projects such as food processing plants, theme parks, warehouses and hotel complexes to completely bypass those local communities and seek planning permission directly at national level. Where is the localism in that?

Vince backed the need to cut red tape and agreed that an efficient and effective planning process “that balances local opinion with national interest” must be put in place.

“Surely it should be consistent, rather than the situation we have now where a theme park is fast-tracked as nationally important infrastructure, while wind energy is left in a kind of planning ghetto, in the same category as a new garden fence,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

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