Almost half of applications for onshore wind farms were rejected last year, as local communities unite to oppose turbines amid concern about their noise and affect on the landscape.
Freedom of Information figures showed 32 applications out of a total 66 for onshore wind farms were turned down for planning permission last year, the lowest number of successful applications since 2005.
In 2009 a third of applications were refused and in 2005 it was just 29 per cent, according to the figures obtained by the commercial law firm McGrigors.
Countryside campaigners say the rise is prompted by growing fears of the impact of not only wind farms but the accompanying plyons on tourism and house prices.
A couple are currently taking a wind farm to the High Court claiming problems with the noise from turbines.
A recent study found green measures, like subsidies for wind farms, are adding 30 per cent to bills, even though protesters claim the technology is inefficient.
Trish Pemberton, campaigner in the North East, said beautiful areas are facing a flood of applications.
Yet wind farms only generate electricity for a third of the time.
“The true facts about wind farms are becoming more publicly known and people are starting to realise the impacts they have on people’s lives,” she said.
“People are just beginning to realise what is going on and they are outraged.”
Ambitious Government aims for renewables to meet a third of electricity demand by 2020 mean thousands of new onshore wind farms need to be built because it is the cheapest and quickest option.
McGrigors partner Jacqueline Harris said town halls refusing planning because of ‘local interests’ could derail climate change targets.
She said the problem would get worse with the Localism Bill, that gives more planning power back to communities.
“We are dealing with an increasing number of complaints and appeals from wind-farm developers who are concerned that attitudes towards wind energy are hardening, particularly at a local level where they feel they do not get a balanced hearing.
“There is little willingness to consider the benefits of renewable energy generation in context – the national interest is being overridden by local concerns.”
Nick Medic, Head of Communications at RenewableUK, pointed out that communities could be given a share of profits from wind farms. He also said that the wind industry is driving growth in green jobs and would ultimately lower bills.
“Every refused wind farm planning application is a missed opportunity to secure employment and business benefits at a local level, and to further deliver on our energy security and climate change target,” he said.
Greg Clark, the Planning Minister, insisted the Localism Bill will ensure planning applications are drawn up in partnership with the community and will therefore boost the industry.
“We’re putting reforms in place that will deliver an efficient planning system that still supports sustainable growth and green energy developments, but rightly gives communities a say in the planning of their local area.”
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