Opponents of future windfarm developments in Cumbria will have only four months in which to object under government plans to fast-track energy projects through the planning system.
New rules unveiled by Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling will force any objectors to state their opposition to proposed developments within a tight timetable of just 120 days.
Currently, the average windfarm application takes 21 months to be approved.
Cumbria has 11 windfarms but has been earmarked for up to 10 more by 2015, more than anywhere else in the north west. Mr Darling is determined to cut the amount of time that planners and planning inquiries take to deal with contentious power schemes by setting strict “timeframes” in which people can object.
The time limit will refer to both large schemes, which are decided by the Secretary of State, and smaller projects which are considered by local authorities.
The move follows a public outcry from more than 1,000 people who objected to plans for a windfarm at Brownrigg Hall, Allonby.
Allerdale Council’s development panel will meet on December 7 to reveal whether Nuon Renewable’s scheme to build five 320ft turbines can go ahead.
In February, plans for what would have been England’s biggest windfarm, at Whinash, near Tebay, were turned down by the government after a public inquiry.
MP for Penrith and the Border David Maclean said last night that he was “mystified” with what he saw as the government’s “obsession” with windfarms.
“They are not the solution to renewable energy. They should be off-shore, not on land,” he said. “We also need to burn more waste in power plants, not incinerators, as this will help climate change.”
The criticism came as the government promised it will push ahead with targets to reduce climate change.
MPs and Lords were told yesterday at the state opening of parliament that a long-term goal of reducing emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 will be written on the statute book, and “appropriate” interim targets will be considered.
An independent Carbon Committee will also work with the government to reduce emissions over time and across the economy.
Mr Maclean added: “We have been calling for a climate change bill with specific targets and we are happy with it. However, the government should not put all its eggs in one basket with windfarms. It is obsessed.
“We must push ahead with nuclear power in Cumbria and across the country.”
By Anika Bourley
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding