Communities to have greater say

Controversial windfarm developments in beauty spots which have caused fury across Northumberland may become a thing of the past.

On Thursday June 6th, the Government announced that communities will have a greater say over the siting of onshore windfarms, and reap increased benefits from hosting developments that do proceed.

The package of measures will include a five-fold increase in the value of community benefits paid for by developers, and proposals that will require communities to be consulted earlier in the application process.

The Government will be expecting the industry to revise its Community Benefit Protocol by the end of the year, to include an increase in the recommended community benefit package in England from £1,000/MW of installed capacity per year, to £5,000/MW/year for the lifetime of the windfarm.

New guidance supporting the planning framework from the Department for Communities and Local Government will make clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities.

It will give greater weight to landscape and visual impact concerns.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “It is important that onshore wind is developed in a way that is truly sustainable – economically, environmentally and socially, and today’s announcement will ensure that communities see the windfall from hosting developments near to them, not just the windfarm”.

North East Euro MP and renewable energy expert Fiona Hall said: “Consulting with people early in the process should lead to more appropriate decisions over where turbines are situated.”