United Kingdom

United Kingdom

New permitting rules target UK onshore

UK: New permitting rules could mean 99% of the UK will be off limits to wind farms.

Energy company RWE Npower Renewables has launched a High Court judicial review against a local council that has used new permitting rules to impose a one-kilometre separation zone between wind farms and homes.

Milton Keynes council’s "buffer zone" is one of the first to take effect, but more councils are implementing them. If replicated nationwide, it would leave less than 1% of the country available for wind farms.  

The energy company warned that it will have to re-think its investment in onshore wind farms and withdraw many permitting applications if it loses the judicial review and more councils start bringing in similar policies.
Wayne Cranstone RWE’s project manager said: "If councils can introduce flawed and onerous planning policies without proper scrutiny then this is likely to have a detrimental affect on the UK onshore wind industry as a whole, not just individual projects.

"It creates an inconsistent planning regime and uncertainty for developers. The outcome of this is clear. The role of onshore wind in terms of supporting Government renewable energy targets is reduced, thousands of jobs won't be realised and billions of pounds of investment opportunities for the UK will be at risk .

"It is crucial we obtain clarity on this matter. It is very difficult for the industry to operate successfully when so much uncertainty prevails."

The buffer zones have all been introduced by councillors from the Conservative Party. In some cases, the councils behind these policies overlap with areas whose members of parliament (MPs) signed a letter to the prime minister demanding an end to wind subsidies.

The letter also requested changes to permitting rules that would make it easier for local people to block proposed wind projects.

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