Turbines privileged again

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Wind plant have won back their privileged status in German planning law. An amendment to Germany's Building Statute Book, granting privileged status to single wind turbines in open countryside from 1997, was passed by parliament in June, raising the morale of the wind sector enormously. "Many people who had abandoned all hope of installing turbines will now apply for licences," says Reginald Scholz of IWB, the association promoting inland wind energy development in Germany. The amendment will come into force at the beginning of 1997 assuming the Upper House gives its consent. This looks likely as the initiative stemmed from there, proposed by a cross-party group. The amendment gives single wind turbines the same status in planning law as farm buildings, radio masts and nuclear power stations, making it far easier to gain building permission. Local authorities are also given the greatest decision making power, says the IWB, wrenching this back from higher planning and licensing offices which have been diluting the parishes' planning sovereignty in recent years. Care has also been taken to protect parishes from being bowled over by new wind applications. They are given until the end of 1998 to draw up area-usage plans for wind energy, if they haven't done so already. In the interim period, they can require the licensing authorities to put all decisions on hold.

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