UK: Planning For Onshore Wind farms

Last Updated: 8 May 2014
Article by Zyda Law

On 22nd April 2014, the Government issued a House of Commons Library Standard Note setting out issues with the planning process for onshore wind development.

This post is intended to provide a very brief summary only, for further details and access to the full note, please see:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing papers/SN04370/planning-for-onshore-wind-farms

The Note sets out and addresses several issues including:

  • The inconsistencies in decision making for onshore wind farms, particularly as far as landscape issues are concerned
  • The need for increased community benefit packages and compulsory pre application engagement on wind farms (introduced in December 2013)
  • Clarity on the principle that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override Environmental Protections
  • The fact that communities do not have the ability to 'veto' wind development

A section on reasons for refusal of wind development applications is included in the note. This provides information and examples of cases which have been refused over the past 5 years.

Examples listed include:

  • A 75-metre high wind turbine in Southern Scotland was rejected because of its harm to the setting of a historic hill fort 500 metres away.
  • A proposal for two wind turbines with a hub height of 24 metres close to a racecourse in Somerset was blocked partly due to the adverse effect on the horses.22
  • A proposal for a turbine with a blade tip of 25 metres in Somerset was rejected because it would affect an air traffic control centre.
  • A proposal to site seven wind turbines in the Grampian foothills has been rejected on the grounds that it would have a significant adverse effect on landscape character and harm visual amenity.

The note also includes a section on reasons for acceptance.

Examples listed include:

  • Two turbines up to 35 metres high were allowed at a farm in the Lincolnshire Wolds area of outstanding beauty on the basis that they would not undermine its character or be seen as dominant features.
  • Permission was granted for 18 wind turbines in south-west Scotland after a reported found that the council had not fully explained its concerns about the scheme's visual impact.
  • A 15-metre high turbine was allowed at a farm in West Yorkshire after an inspector held that potential harm to a protected bat species would be small and the adverse landscape impact slight.
  • Four 121 metre wind turbines were allowed on the Solway coast after limited landscape and tourism harm were outweighed by the need to combat global warming and improve energy security.

As set out in the note; statistics show that during 2012:

  • 215 applications for wind development were consented, amounting to a generating capacity of 1892.97MW.
  • 115 applications were refused, amounting to a generating capacity of 829.73MW
  • 84 applications were withdrawn, amounting to a generating capacity of 320.88MW

In addition, the note sets out some of the policy considerations for wind development, including the NPPF and the relevant National Policy Statements for Energy (EN1 and EN3) and the routes by which wind turbines may receive planning consent:

  • For small building mounted domestic wind turbines, permitted development rights may be available
  • For wind development under 50MW, consent will need to be sought via a planning application to the Local Planning Authority
  • For wind development above 50MW; consent will need to be achieved via a Development Consent Order under the planning act 2008.

Zyda Law specialises in achieving planning consent for energy infrastructure via all three of the above routes. We have a 100% success record.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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