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Councils consider new planning rules to combat growth of wind farms  

Credit:  by Ben Hurst, Birmingham Post | Nov 30 2012 | www.birminghampost.net ~~

Councils in the West Midlands could introduce ‘no wind farm zones’ in an alliance which aims to use planning guidelines to prevent the widespread growth of turbines.

Officials, worried that some of the most beautiful countryside in the region could be ruined by the growth of the energy generators, have decided to try to keep them away from homes.

By banning developments within 2km of houses, opponents of wind farms believe their widespread use would be rendered almost impossible.

It has been estimated that, if the policy was introduced around the country, less than one per cent of land would be available for the developments.

Authorities can use Local Plan legislation, which allows councils to set out detailed individual frameworks for land use in their areas.

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet has agreed that wind farms should not be located in areas where they would “damage the Staffordshire landscape or its economy”.

Its cabinet member for environment and assets Mark Winnington said wind farm applications should be refused unless they could demonstrate real benefits to people living nearby.

He added that the county council’s position on wind turbine applications should also include the recommendation that large scale wind energy developments should be 2km or more from residential areas.

Coun Winnington said: “Staffordshire has some outstanding landscapes and architectural landmarks which cannot be compromised by large-scale wind energy developments

“Similarly, we do not want to see them anywhere where they could have a detrimental impact on the local economy, particularly our ever- expanding tourism industry.

“We understand the need for renewable energy sources and that wind turbines contribute to lowering carbon emissions.

“However, they need to be in the right locations and have proper assessments and checks carried out during the planning process.

“Staffordshire is a predominantly rural county and we do not want to see the industrialisation of areas through such developments.

“The local economy and improving people’s quality of life are top priorities for the county council and we don’t want to see them negatively impacted upon as a result of wind turbine developments.”

In Stratford-upon-Avon, consultation took place for a 700-metre exclusion zone – but respondents said this didn’t go far enough. Now the council is investigating more than doubling the distance.

Council leader Chris Saint said: “If we did not see a single wind turbine in Stratford, we would be grateful.

“We simply don’t want our upland countryside, like the Dassett Hills and Feldon uplands, ruined by large wind farms.

“We are going to suggest substantially increasing the proposed 700-metre separation zone to 1.5km.

“They are visually intrusive and cannot provide enough power.”

A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said: “The County Council supports renewable energy as part of its environment strategy and will be producing non-formal guidance on the subject in due course. This is not currently planned to include separation distances.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities & Local Government said it was up to councils to form their own policies.

She said: “The National Planning Policy Framework states that local councils should design their policies to ensure that any adverse impacts of renewable energy developments are addressed satisfactorily, including cumulative landscape and visual impacts.

“Councils should take forward their own policies via their Local Plans.

“Applications should be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account local factors such as the number, height and location of the proposed turbines, as well as the topography of the landscape and ambient noise.”

Source:  by Ben Hurst, Birmingham Post | Nov 30 2012 | www.birminghampost.net

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.


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