During a debate in the Commons earlier this week, the energy secretary Amber Rudd was quizzed on Tory plans to give local communities the "final say" on onshore wind applications by Conservative MP 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."
However, a DCLG spokesman told Planning that developers would still be able to appeal councils' decisions to refuse onshore wind energy projects, but inspectors would need to take into account new guidance, announced in a written statement last week by commmunities secretary Greg Clark, when deciding those appeals.
The spokesman said: "Ministers have been clear that onshore wind energy developments should only get the go-ahead if it is supported by local people through local and neighbourhood plans.
"Developers will continue to have the right to appeal planning decisions, but any appeal would have to take into account this clear requirement for local backing."
Clark's written 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 DCLG spokesman added: "While onshore wind now makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix, wind farms have been imposed on affected local communities against their wishes.
"That’s why these new planning tests have been introduced specifically for wind energy developments, so local people will have the final say on applications."