No more on shore wind farm schemes will be given the go ahead unless they have the support of local people, the new Energy secretary has said.
Amber Rudd, who was appointed last week in the post-election reshuffle, said the new powers would be in next week’s Queen’s Speech.
Miss Rudd also disclosed that the new Conservative Government would try to speed up extraction of shale gas and loosen rules so it could be extracted from under national parks.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Miss Rudd said she liked to look at windfarms but recognised that their location was deeply divisive, with local people battling against them.
Miss Rudd said she did not personally “think they’re an eyesore at all. I personally quite enjoy seeing them.”
But she added: “We can’t have them on a scale in areas where people don’t want them.”
Under current planning rules, big onshore wind farms are handled by a central Government quango which has the powers to over-ride the wishes of local people.
Energy secretary Amber Rudd plans to ‘unleash solar revolution’
However the new powers – which Miss Rudd wants to be in place by this time next year – will hand these powers to councils, which in turn will have to consults residents first.
The legislation will also ensure that subsidies paid to operators of new onshore wind turbines will be banned.
The estimated 4,000 onshore wind turbines already constructed and 3,000 planned projects, which will provide power for seven million homes by 2020, will not be affected by the plans.
Miss Rudd said: “It will mean no more onshore wind farm subsidies and no more onshore wind farms without local community support.
“This is really important. I’ve already got my team working on it. That’s going to be one of the first things we’re going to do.
“I’ve put a rocket under the team to get it done, putting the local community back in charge. We’re looking to do the primary legislation as soon as we can.
“Local planning authorities combined with no new subsidies will put local people in charge … there will be a much more accountable democratic process.”
On shale gas extraction, Miss Rudd said: “With a Conservative majority I believe we’ll be able to deliver shale, as we’ve always wanted to do, in a safe but beneficial way.”
She said the government would pass secondary legislation that would allow shale gas extraction under national parks, though drilling will remain banned, meaning the wells would have to be outside areas of groundwater and outstanding natural beauty.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding