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Leaders of three wind energy companies – Endurance, Windflow and EWT – claim in the letter amendments to planning guidlines have confused the process of developing small-scale wind turbines.

The letter to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said changes were particularly harmful to small rural communities and farmers.

The group claim local and community-scale wind energy is helping communities deal with higher energy prices, particularly farmers, which make up 95% of Endurance customers. They state the rule changes “directly threatens rural business models”.

The DCLG has previously said “local residents must have the final say over whether onshore wind farm applications get the go-ahead in their areal.” The new planning rules only give permission for wind turbines if the site is identified as suitable for wind energy as part of a local or neighbourhood plan.

Confusion

The letter from businesses states: “Worryingly, the new requirement for local backing fails to give local residents any say at all unless onshore wind has been written into their council’s local plan. Of the 400 Local Planning Authorities in Britain, just 68 have such plans. According to the Planning Inspectorate, 199 haven’t even started the process.

“Even of those councils that do have a local plan, not all have an explicit policy on wind; this is causing confusion even amongst Planning Officers.

“For example, Policy Officers from Mid Devon District Council and North West Leicestershire District Council have indicated that any application submitted now should be refused on the basis that they do not have any areas identified for wind energy.”

Rural rights

The businesses added: “While the guidance on wind has now changed, it should not be forgotten that the National Planning Policy Framework still stipulates that that Local Planning Authorities should be in favour of renewables.

“It is imperative that DCLG recognises and reinstates the right of farmers and rural communities to deploy small-scale clean technologies that are appropriate to the location.”

In June, Clark announced new planning rules would mean wind turbines should only get the go-ahead if they have been clearly backed by local people.

Clark said: “Our One Nation approach is about backing people on the issues that really matter to them and we are today delivering on our manifesto commitment to give local people the final say over onshore wind applications.”

Matt Field

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