Future of onshore wind farms unclear as local communities given more say
Local communities will have greater power to veto the construction of onshore wind farms, as a result of changes to planning guidance, announced by the government today.
Under the changes, communities will be consulted earlier in the application process and, for developments that go ahead, will receive five times the value of benefits paid for by developers.
The Government says the measures will ensure that the concerns of local The new community subsidy for a medium-sized (20MW) wind farm will be about £100,000 per year, which is the equivalent of up to £400 a year off each household's annual bill.
Secretary of State Ed Davey said: "It is important that onshore wind is developed in a way that is truly sustainable - economically, environmentally and socially, and today's announcement will ensure that communities see the windfall from hosting developments near to them, not just the wind farm.
"We remain committed to the deployment of appropriately sited onshore wind, as a key part of a diverse, low-carbon and secure energy mix and committed to an evidence-based approach to supporting low carbon power."
Trade association RenewableUK agreed with the fivefold increase in community benefit funds but said it was "very disappointing" that this would make some future projects unviable.
RenewableUK's chief executive, Maria McCaffery said: "Adding to this cost, by following the Government's advice that we should pay substantially more into community funds for future projects, may unfortunately make some onshore wind energy developments uneconomic in England."
"That said, we recognise the need to ensure good practice across the industry and will continue to work with Government and local authorities to benefit communities right across the country which are hosting our clean energy future."
Energy Minister, Michael Fallon said the Government was "changing the balance" to ensure that local communities were consulted earlier and had more say.
"Today, we are putting local people at the heart of decision making on onshore wind. When new turbines are agreed, we will ensure that they are developed in a way that benefits the local community, such as through cheaper energy bills," he said.