United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Regions prepare to identify wind sites -- Hard numerical targets

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Action has started on a regional approach to removing the huge stumbling block to wind of Britain's infamous system of physical planning. The nine English regions are preparing renewables assessments based on existing resource studies. Regional sustainable development frameworks -- being put in place this year -- will draw on the work to form a renewable energy strategy for each area, with targets.

These targets will form part of Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) and counties' "structure plans" will define broad locations for development and set criteria to help local authorities select suitable sites in their local plans.

The move to a regional strategy is part of new government policy announced in February (Windpower Monthly, March 2000). Failure to secure planning consent for projects has long stifled wind development in the UK. A regional approach to planning, however, has already been shown to work for other industries and types of development, points out Marcus Trinick from solicitors Bond Pearce. Trinick is part of a wind industry team that has been liasing with counties over provision for wind in their structure plans.

He believes targets can be made to stick. "Counties will need to get together to decide who takes what, and what technologies. And the wind industry will have to be in there," he says. But he believes "hard numerical targets" in county plans will be observed. "There is going to be a lot of kicking and screaming undoubtedly. But if a developer puts in a sound application, the local authority is going to have a very weak case for refusing."

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