[ exact phrase in "" • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

when your community is targeted

Get weekly updates

RSS feeds and more

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate via Stripe

Donate via Paypal

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links


Press Releases


Campaign Material

Photos & Graphics


Allied Groups

Wind Watch is a registered educational charity, founded in 2005.

News Watch Home

Weary of wrestling with planning restrictions, Ecotricity hopes new rules will truly streamline the system 


Economist Kate Barker’s analysis of the state of the planning system should make good bedside reading for Ecotricity founder Dale Vince. Barker has been working to identify ways to “streamline” the land use planning system since last November, and has so far outlined a medley of problems, in her July report. Suggestions for change will come in due course. But after two decades of wrestling with that system Vince knows where he’d take it”¦

As it happens, Barker’s report singles out an Ecotricity project as an example of how the planning system can work well. The one when a single turbine went up at Ecotech in Swaffham, Norfolk, in 1999 and then locals asked for a second.

Yet, for that one positive experience, Vince has plenty of negative stories to flesh out his argument that planning works against his industry. Earlier this year, for example, Ecotricity finally succeeded in winning approval for a single turbine at Chewton Mendip, Somerset ““ after a hefty three-year process. A more recent victory saw permission granted for two turbines at Shipdham, Norfolk. That ended a five-year planning journey that was, says Ecotricity, “no less arduous or expensive than if we had applied to build a nuclear power station”.

For Vince the difficulties involved are typical of problems he has faced since he put up his first turbine in 1992. You might imagine that the government’s clear support for renewables today would have made it more straightforward. It was spelled out clearly three years ago, in a national planning policy, that councils must work to policies designed to “promote and encourage” renewable energy. But Vince says little has changed.

So how does this “˜system’ treat wind farms? A key point is that, while a new gas-fired power station, for example, is dealt with in Whitehall (because of its strategic importance), wind energy projects go through the same process as home extensions. It’s district council members that get to approve or reject them, although there is a right of appeal. That’s where the planning inspector ““ a government-appointed professional ““ gets involved. But in reality, says Vince, wind energy applications often stand or fall on the say so of parish politics, which is easily swayed by wind energy opponents’ arguments.

What he finds particularly ironic is that opponents of reform to the current system argue that “streamlining” would remove democratic rights, when in fact the status quo is as un-democratic as it could be. “You have elected people, who aren’t very skilful, ruling against applications that then go to a planning inspector. In the end these things are decided by a single, centrally appointed person.” The system also costs companies like Ecotricity dear, as they fight and re-fight the same battles at one district council after another.

Vince’s recommendation to Barker is simple; that wind energy be treated as a strategic issue and be passed up the system to at least county council level. “Wind energy is technical, complex and of strategic importance and district councils don’t tend to deal with issues like that,” he says.

Vince has a last thought for Kate Barker to ponder. The hefty cost of getting a project through the planning process is much the same for a single turbine or a dozen. That works against a project like Swaffham, which Barker saw as a model of good planning. “We have done great things with single wind turbines,” he says. “The public loves them. If we are driven to bigger projects just because of the cost of the planning process, then isn’t the system letting the public down?”
Julian Rollins is a freelance journalist and editor specialising in environment and countryside issues.
Ecotricity, 01453 756111,

small forum for the future logo

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Contributions
   Donate via Stripe
(via Stripe)
Donate via Paypal
(via Paypal)


e-mail X FB LI M TG TS G Share

News Watch Home

Get the Facts
© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.


Wind Watch on X Wind Watch on Facebook Wind Watch on Linked In

Wind Watch on Mastodon Wind Watch on Truth Social

Wind Watch on Gab Wind Watch on Bluesky