The Tories’ hopeful to be north Northumberland’s next MP has slammed the Lib Dems, claiming that they want councils hit with legal bills if they block windfarms.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Berwick, has hit out following the release of a Liberal Democrat policy paper on Green Growth and Green Jobs, which could be approved at the party’s autumn conference.
She points to a statement in a section on onshore windfarms that says: ‘Liberal Democrats would support developers who seek punitive damages against councils who do not follow National Policy Guidelines in determining consents...’
However, it goes on to say: ‘...for example, many (particularly Conservative) councils have adopted criteria (such as minimum separation distances from dwellings), in contravention of government planning policy.’
Anne-Marie points to new figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change which show that Northumberland already has the largest share of installed wind capacity compared to other English counties, generating 12 per cent of the total.
She said: “This policy is unworkable, misguided and would ride roughshod over local people’s views that the council exists to represent.
“We all agree that sustainable energy production is a crucial issue and renewables have a role to play, but the figures from DECC show that Northumberland has more than met its share of responsibility.
“Councils have a responsibility to their residents first and foremost and should not feel that they must grant permission for windfarms for fear of being sued by developers.”
But Liberal Democrats in the constituency have pointed out that elsewhere in the document, under planning, it expresses the need to ‘review how the planning framework is working in practice and, if necessary, toughen up the relevant standards and guidance’.
The paper suggests that local authorities need to be given clearer guidance on what they can and cannot do.