In the last couple of months, there have been radical reforms to the planning system, which appears to have resulted in a much lower approval rate for wind farm developments.
The new planning rules mean that when Councils are considering a planning application for wind turbines in their area, they should only grant permission if:
· the site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy as part of a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and
· following consultation, the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore has their backing.
This second test means that the concerns regarding planning impacts of the local communities are fully addressed, even if there is backing for wind farms through the Local Plan.
Additionally, if a planning application has already been made for wind turbines in an area where the Local Plan does not identify suitable sites, the council still have to satisfy the second test. This means that in order to approve an application, the concerns of the affected community must be adequately addressed. It is a matter of planning judgement for the local planning authority as to whether the proposal has the backing of the affected local community.
This in turn, has led to mounting refusals for wind farm developments. Four times in the last month, the Communities Secretary Greg Clark has turned down wind farm developments, citing none compliance with the new test. A decision letter stated: “as those planning impacts as identified by the affected communities have not been addressed, the proposed scheme would not meet the transitional arrangements set out in the written ministerial statement of 18 June 2015. The Secretary of State gives significant weight to this non-compliance." This demonstrates how seriously the Secretary of State are taking this new planning test, which is set out in the written ministerial statement from June.
Gemma Grimes, director of policy for consents and intelligence at RenewableUK, said “the new rules, along with ‘the current policy outlook’ for onshore wind, means that fewer developers will come forward with wind schemes.” However, the new test is in its infancy, and only time will tell whether it will have a substantial and prolonged effect on the approval of new wind farm developments.
Zyda Law are well advised to help you achieve development consent for your energy projects. If you would like to discuss your proposals in more detail, then contact Paul Zyda at email@example.com or ring 01789 413 949 to speak to a member of our team