UK: Wind developers in England are fighting a legacy of “resentment and hostility” caused by their own past behaviour when going through the permitting process, according to one of the UK’s foremost environmentalists.
The comments were from Jonathon Porritt who was formerly chair of government advisory body the Sustainable Development Commission, director of Friends of the Earth and co-chair of the Green Party.
Speaking at Scottish Renewables’ conference in Edinburgh, Porritt said that some large “brutish” developers had ridden roughshod over communities in England in the past and although there were signs of a change in behaviour, it was “too bloody late”.
Previous dismissal of communities’ concerns had left a legacy that the right-wing, anti-wind press can feed off, he said.
Porritt acknowledged that the anti-wind lobby was the main cause of low rates of permitting approval. However, he said that wind projects in Scotland did not face such hostile opposition due to the encouragement of community ownership. This has led to a more mature debate about wind, he said.
Just 41% of wind projects received a permit in England in 2010-11, compared to 62% in Scotland, according to RenewableUK.
Porritt’s comments came as the UK government published new guidance for the permitting system. The guidance, which reduced over 1,000 pages to a mere 50, is an attempt by the government to simplify the planning system to boost economic growth. However, both the wind industry and landscape campaigners have argued that it is too vague and will result in more projects going through the appeal system, increasing costs and delays.
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