Wind site zoning proposals set to relieve tortuous permitting process

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The raising of wind power's status in Sweden to one of national importance should help relieve the country's tortuous permitting process for wind plant. After years of wind industry lobbying, the Swedish Energy Agency (STEM) has forwarded wind power zoning proposals to county authorities. "In principle it is very good news for producers and something we have been waiting for, for a long time," says Windforce Svenska's Matthias Rapp. He points out that under existing rules all projects over 10 MW have to go through a laborious system of environmental courts, which, in many cases, can hold up development for years. "If wind power is seen as an area of national importance it will enjoy a higher status throughout this legal process and projects should pass through with much greater ease," he says. STEM's proposals outline various criteria and land zones where wind power siting will be handled at government level. County authorities must now draw their own wind zone boundaries, taking into account national parks and other areas to be excluded. Once the borders are agreed, both for on-shore and offshore activity, permitting should be straightforward.

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