The coalition government is an enthusiastic supporter of renewable energy, but only when sited in appropriate locations, a Tory MP told a planning inquiry yesterday.
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon spoke of his opposition to a wind turbine development in his constituency and urged a planning inspector to dismiss proposals for three 126m-high masts at the former Pulham airfield, near Diss.
The Conservative MP yesterday added that the government’s Localism Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, aimed to restore local control over planning issues such as onshore wind farm schemes.
His comments come as renewable energy company TCI Renewables aims to overturn a decision by South Norfolk Councillors last year to refuse three large turbines at Upper Vaunces Farm between Rushall, Dickleburgh, Pulham Market, and Pulham St Mary.
Mr Bacon told the planning inquiry that whilst a “substantial” amount of government policy supported the exploitation of Britain’s sources of renewable energy, it did not mean that it would allow “inappropriate” development in the countryside.
He added that South Norfolk Council’s decision to unanimously reject the wind farm development last December because of the impact on residents and the landscape was in line with all relevant government policies and the wishes of communities will be given more consideration in the future.
“The direction of travel of the government’s policy indicates clearly that the future of the planning system is in empowering communities, through democratically elected councillors, to decide for themselves how they should develop. The damaging trend towards central control will be reversed and top-down targets and requirements will go.”
“This means that developers will be expected to provide communities with a much clearer understanding of the direct benefits they will receive from development and it will be for communities to decide for themselves whether those benefits are worth the impact on their locality,” he said.
TCI Renewables has appealed the district council’s decision saying that the former airfield site was an “excellent” location for wind power and would not pose an unacceptable impact on the area.
However, the plans received 400 letters of objection from local residents who fear their quality of life would be affected by a wind farm development.
The inquiry is set to conclude tomorrow.