Government ministers have been accused of ‘playing to the gallery’ by promising to give local communities more say over windfarm developments.
With controversial ‘green energy’ projects proposed or constructed around Darwen, Oswaldtwistle Moor in Hyndburn, Ribble Valley and Rossendale, ministers claim changes to planning guidance could give protesters more chance of stopping such schemes.
The measures will see a five-fold rise in the benefits paid by developers to communities hosting windfarms.
The subsidies – worth about £100,000 a year – could reduce local homes’ energy bills, or pay for local initiatives.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: “We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity.”
But Oswaldtwistle rambler and windfarm opponent Chris Whalen said: “I don’t think this will make any difference.”
Blackburn with Darwen environment boss and former planning chairman Jim Smith claimed: “This is ministers playing to the gallery. We have heard this sort of thing before. I don’t think anything of substance will change.”
Rossendale council leader Alyson Barnes said: “We have major schemes in process on Scout Moor above Rawtenstall and Cook Hill, near Whitworth.
“This sounds a good idea but, in practice, these proposals from the Government rarely result in any change.”
Burnley council regeneration director Mike Cook said: “We recognise that proposals to develop wind farms often create strong feelings.
“We also know that the moorland landscape around Burnley makes our area attractive to companies.
“The council will look through the new planning guidance when it comes out, and take account of all implications.”
Hyndburn Borough Council leader Miles Parkinson said: “We have to engage with the residents in the affected area to reach the right decision.
“It’s for developers to prove that the proposal is for the community’s benefit.”
Ribble Valley council planning chairman Terry Hill said: “We are interested in hearing what the Government is proposing in greater detail, particularly how the public would be consulted.”
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