This, in a nutshell, was the response of one senior consultant to John Prescott’s no-holds-barred speech attacking the current planning system and nimbyism that is slowing the development of wind farms in the UK.

Speaking at the British Wind Energy Association’s annual conference in Liverpool this week, the former Deputy PM said that the problem could be solved in the same way as the government had tackled the thorny issue of where to set up traveller sites.

Local authorities should be required to put forward potential sites for wind farms, he argued, as this would be the best way to establish appropriate plans.

Jon Abbatt of ADAS told edie that while we broadly supported Mr Prescott’s stance, it would need to be carefully implemented and certain caveats would have to be in place.

“The number of wind farm developments that are successful at the first application is at an all time low of 25 per cent,” said Mr Abbatt.

“While a number are successful on appeal, the prolonged process is a huge waste of time and money.

“The broad idea outlined by John Prescott could help speed up the process but it would need to be implemented after a comprehensive and detailed wind mapping study of the UK would need to be carried out identifying the best wind resources and avoiding sensitive environmental areas.

“Energy from wind potential varies widely across the UK and this would need to be reflected in each authorities’ allocation – there’s no point demanding a local authority is given a target that requires them to develop unsuitable locations – that would do a lot more harm than good to the wind energy cause, and would alienate certain sectors of the public further.

“Careful wind mapping and assessment of the environmental constraints is the first step that needs to be taken on the step to speeding up the planning application process.”

Friends of the Earth also came out in support of the speech, with energy campaigner Nick Rau saying: “John Prescott is right to call for councils to be obliged to identify local sites where green energy developments such as wind farms could be built.

“Councils must understand that they have a vital role to play in cutting UK greenhouse gas emissions and delivering green energy.

“New planning guidance is desperately needed which sets renewable energy targets for local authorities across the country.

“The planning system must help local communities find real solutions to climate change, and councils must get proactive and help people reap the financial and employment benefits of having community-led green energy projects developed in their local area.”

Highlights of Mr Prescott’s speech can be seen on edie TV:

Sam Bond

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