A threat of ‘considerable burden to the public purse’ has been made by a wind farm company to Milton Keynes Council.
At a meeting tonight, the council’s decision-making cabinet is due to decide whether to change its policy on how far wind turbines must be from houses.
But German firm RWE Npower Renewables, which currently has an application for a farm in with the council, has warned the change could leave the authority open to legal challenges resulting in significant cost to the taxpayer.
Currently, if a developer wants to put up a turbine, planning policy in Milton Keynes states it must be no less than 350 metres from the nearest house.
But the council has been consulting on whether to increase this to one kilometre away for the largest masts.
Some are concerned this could inhibit wind farm developments around the city, and now RWE, through law firm Eversheds, has written a letter to the council to try to affect the decision.
In it, it writes: “Adopting a document that is contrary to national policy raises a real risk of costly legal proceedings, in which full recovery of legal costs would be sought.
“We strongly suggest that the council reconsiders its position before it risks a considerable burden to the public purse.”
The company said the letter is a ‘last resort’, sent to the council in response to a move which goes against national policy.
A spokesman said: “There is no hard evidence to justify such restrictions on renewable developments.
“The National Planning Policy Framework urges local planning authorities to maximise the generation of renewable energy while ensuring an appropriate level of protection for residential occupiers.”
The letter has angered MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, who has previously spoken in Parliament about protecting local residents against unwanted developments.
He said: “I don’t think the council or local residents should be deterred from following this course of action just because of the threat of legal action from a large multi-national company.”
Richard Pryor lives in Haversham, currently the subject of an application from RWE for five 127-metre tall turbines, which could be affected by the change.
He said: “For me this is a large German multi-national bullying a council for profitability reasons.”
Milton Keynes Council declined to comment until after tonight’s meeting.
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