Plans could see wind farm developers stop treating local communities with “blatant contempt” – South Norfolk MP
Eric Pickles’ bid to give local communities more power to stop onshore wind farm developments “do not amount to much”.
So says Lucy Melrose, of local anti-wind farm group 4Villages, in response to the Communities and Local Government Secretary’s ambitious goal.
Mr Pickles wants to change planning guidance to ensure local opposition can override national energy targets – ostensibly, a boost for south Norfolk campaigners looking to stop two wind farm bids from TCI Renewables.
But Mrs Melrose, part of the campaign against the proposed wind farm on land covering the Pulhams, Rushall and Dickleburgh at Upper Vaunces Farm, said: “If you read the detail, what is being said does not amount to much. It talks of things that exist already, such as consulting the community.
“Given our own lengthy battle, many of us have become cynical about any of the edicts from central Government, although I know some people locally who think it could be a good thing.”
The measures proposed by the Government would see a five-fold rise in the benefits paid to developers to communities hosting wind farms. It hopes energy companies will implement the increased payments before the end of the year.
South Norfolk’s Conservative MP, Richard Bacon, expressed his pleasure at the proposals.
He said: “This very timely announcement will delight many local communities who are thoroughly fed up of having their wishes ignored by wind energy firms.
“Two onshore windfarms have already been seen off by my constituents but, rather than listening to local residents and looking elsewhere, TCI Renewables has simply reapplied for planning permission.
“Under these new and very welcome proposals, it will no longer be possible to treat local views with such blatant contempt.”
A spokesman for TCI Renewables said the firm did not want to comment on the Government’s plans at this early stage.
It also refused to comment on whether such a move could jeopardise its two, long-sought-after wind farms in south Norfolk.
Hempnall residents turned out in force at a parish poll held in March on the proposed TCI Renwables turbines proposed for their village.
An overwhelming majority said they were opposed to the construction of the three 126-metre turbines.
The Oxfordshire-based firm has another application lodged with South Norfolk Council to build three turbines of the same height at Upper Vaunces Farm.
This is despite the fact a Government inspector ruled last October in support of South Norfolk Council’s planning committee unanimously rejecting a first proposal on the site.
Keith Kiddie, the council’s cabinet member for environment and regulation, said: “We are awaiting further planning guidance due out in July that will assist local councils on the consideration of planning applications for onshore wind farms.”
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