Campaign groups across Harrogate and the Yorkshire Dales have welcomed new Government guidelines for onshore wind farms, but warn over the risk of complacency.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has published a report outlining that local communities are to get a greater say over the siting of wind farms and will reap increased benefits from agreeing to host turbines.
Save the Dales, which opposes plans for eleven turbines, and the prospect of a further seventeen near Harrogate, welcomes the news.
Spokesperson Gerry Smith said: “On behalf of myself and a number of other people who are faced with the potential horror and blight of having wind farms forced upon them, it can be nothing else but good news.
“But I would, as always, caution – it’s not until it actually happens should people feel utterly delighted. I think it’s very important that people don’t believe that the battle is won. It’s far from that.
“There shouldn’t be over optimism or indeed complacency. One must still continue to fight on.”
However, Mr Smith added that the increased benefits are just a “form of bribery.”
He continued: “I don’t think that a couple of hundred pounds off the cost of electricity bills is any great compensation for any house that’s blighted and potentially unsalable because of the wind farm being there.
“I think that it’s just a form of bribery for getting people on side and I don’t believe that is right in a planning system.”
The Friends of Craven Landscape has been fighting plans for three huge wind turbines to be built on Brightenber Hill, near Gargrave.
Spokesman Chris Emmett said: “We welcome the news that there will be greater community involvement in wind farm planning.
“The wind energy industry is saying that this is all going to ring the death knell for onshore wind and we don’t agree with that at all. But it will mean that community concerns for landscape and more importantly the life quality of people living within that landscape will have to carry more weight.
“Wind farm developers will have to work harder to engage with the community before an application is submitted, and that’s got to be a welcome move.”
According to the guidelines, current planning decisions on onshore wind are not always reflecting a locally-led planning system.
New planning guidance supporting the planning framework from DCLG will make clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities.
It will give greater weight to landscape and visual impact concerns.
As part of the measures, the Government will make pre-application consultation with local communities compulsory for the more significant onshore wind applications.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “Today, we are putting local people at the heart of decision making on onshore wind.
“We are changing the balance to ensure that they are consulted earlier and have more say against poorly sited or inadequately justified turbines.
“When new turbines are agreed, we will ensure that they are developed in a way that benefits the local community, such as through cheaper energy bills.”
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