Local opinion needs be treated with respect and seriousness in the fight against wind farms, an MP has warned.
Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies was speaking after the government ruled councils must not impose blanket bans on them being built near homes.
Local government secretary Eric Pickles had promised to “give local communities a greater say” on where wind farms are built, but new guidance from his department has warned councils not to create “inflexible” turbine-free zones.
Mr Davies said it is vital local opinion is taken on board with wind farm applications and called on the government not to make it any harder for people to stop wind farm applications.
He said: “I hope the government guidance is not the case because I want local opinion to be treated with respect and seriousness.
“This issue is one that depresses me and that takes some doing.
“The government should not make it more difficult for people trying to stop wind turbines destroying their lives.
“Any ruling against buffer zones where wind farms can’t be built near homes is a backward step.”
The government planning document which contains the guidance was released after Parliament broke up for the summer recess and says the distance of a wind farm from housing does not “necessarily determine whether the impact of a proposal is unacceptable”. “Local planning authorities should not rule out otherwise acceptable renewable energy developments through inflexible rules on buffer zones.”
The guidance appears at odds with comments made in January by Nick Boles, the planning minister, who said: “It is perfectly reasonable and right for district councils to draw up policies that will guide future decisions about the siting of wind turbines so that we protect our precious landscape and listen to local people’s concerns.
“Such policies might include minimum separation distances between centres of population and new turbines.”
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