Rudd signals end to onshore wind planning appeals

The Planning Inspectorate will no longer be able to overturn local authority decisions to refuse planning permission for onshore wind projects, the energy secretary Amber Rudd has told MPs.

Onshore wind: energy secretary has suggested end to planning appeals (picture by Gidzy, Flickr)
Onshore wind: energy secretary has suggested end to planning appeals (picture by Gidzy, Flickr)

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Rudd set out details of the government’s plan to bring an early end to a key subsidy for developers of onshore wind farms.

Rudd was quizzed during the debate on government plans to give communities the "final say" on onshore wind farms by Tory MP for North West Hampshire Kit Malthouse. He asked: "Can she reassure those worried communities that that means that they cannot now be overruled by the Planning Inspectorate?"

Rudd responded: "Yes, I can."

Rudd was also pressed on the issue by Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough. He asked: "Can my right hon. Friend confirm that if the Borough Council of Wellingborough turns down a planning application for a wind farm, its decision cannot be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate?"

Rudd responded: "Yes, I can confirm that."

In a written statement last week, communities secretary Greg Clark set out new considerations to be applied to proposed wind energy developments.

The statement said that local planning authorities should only grant permission if:

- the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a local or neighbourhood plan; and

- following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

The Conservative Party’s manifesto pledge to give communities the "final say" over onshore wind applications had left experts puzzled over how the change would be enacted.

Experts told Planning last month that scrapping the right to appeal would be undemocratic and would be likely to lead to developers complaining of discrimination, first to UK courts and then to Europe.

Rudd told MPs yesterday that the government’s plan to end new public subsidies for onshore wind farms by legislating to close the Renewables Obligation to new onshore wind projects from 1 April 2016 would mean that around 250 projects totalling around 2,500 turbines are now unlikely to be built.

Rudd said that a grace period would continue to give access to support under the Renewables Obligation to projects which already have planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance and evidence of land rights for the site on which their projects will be built.

"We estimate that around 7.1GW of onshore wind capacity proposed across the UK will not be eligible for the grace period and are therefore unlikely to go ahead as a result of the announcement," Rudd said.

She added: "That equates to around 250 projects totalling around 2,500 turbines now unlikely to be built."

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