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Just published guidelines on wind power development in Sweden, awaited for the past four years, have been branded "miserable and useless" by a renewables lobby group. According to Olof Karlsson, chairman of renewable energy organisation SERO and an expert adviser to the government energy commission, new guidelines should now be developed by non-government organisations. Meantime, local authority planners will be guided by the 60 pages of advice and information just published by the Swedish Board of Housing, Building and Planning. The document had been eagerly awaited by the wind community as it was hoped that proper guidelines would speed up the planning permission process. But those hopes appear to have been dashed. The guidelines are deemed generally vague, but remarkably restrictive in specific instances. Allowable noise from wind turbines near recreational areas and weekend homes, for example, has been set at just 35 dBA. The guidelines list all the laws relevant to a wind turbine siting application, but provide no advice on how to interpret them. Since many of the laws on landscape protection are already vague, the guidelines border on being a catalogue of arguments for disallowing wind development. Not even the benefits of wind energy are allowed to be part of the decision process -- wind power's contribution to the local economy must not be taken into account. The guidelines were drafted by the Swedish housing board, energy authority Nutek and the Environment Protection Agency, all of which have different views of wind energy. The environment agency clearly regards wind turbines as a severe threat to the Swedish countryside.

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