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The future of wind energy in Cumbria

Cumbria County Council yesterday [Sept 13] endorsed a document which will guide future planning decisions about wind energy in the county.

The Wind Energy Supplementary Planning Document sets out the planning issues relating to wind farm development in Cumbria and will provide the context for considering developers’ proposals for wind turbines.

Cllr Ian Stewart, Cabinet member responsible for environmental wellbeing, stressed that it is not a ‘hit list’ identifying potential sites for wind farm development; rather, it is a document setting out the planning issues that will be key considerations for any Cumbrian planning authority determining an application.

These issues include potential effects of wind farm development on: communities, biodiversity, cultural heritage, local economy, highways, soils and hydrology, aircraft and telecommunications. It particularly focuses on the effects wind farms have on landscape.

The document, which will replace the existing “Wind Energy in Cumbria” supplementary planning guidance, will help support the Government’s Energy White Paper, which sets a target for the UK to generate 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. However it aims to make sure that new wind farms don’t cause significant harm.

Cumbria County Council has led the work producing the guidance, and the document has been drawn up in partnership with other planning authorities in the county after extensive consultation with the public. It is being considered for adoption by district councils and the Lake District National Park Authority. Once it is adopted, it will become part of their Local Development Frameworks and support policies in the county’s Joint Structure Plan.

Cllr Ian Stewart said: “It is hard to overstate the importance of this document. As an upland, rural county Cumbria is a place where developers are already looking for opportunities to create wind farms and that is not going to go away. That is why we need to have robust, coherent guidance to help consider the complex planning issues on what is a controversial subject. It will help communities, planning authorities and wind energy developers.”

Source: Cumbria County Council

egovmonitor.com

14 September 2007