Government Policy

We urge people and other groups to make representations to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in respect of the Drafts PPS22 – Renewable Energy and PPS7 – Sustainable Development in Rural Areas.

Note that PPS22 says that it excludes issues in other planning policy statements which should be read in conjunction with this one.

Draft PPS7 purports to “sustain and enhance the distinctive environment, economy and social fabric of the English countryside for the benefit of all”.

It would be easy to argue that any renewable energy proposal, including wind turbines, should be granted planning permission in the light of both these draft PPSs.

How can one, PPS(7), state that planning authorities should continue to protect the countryside while at the same time remove local landscape designations? PPS7 reckons that it provides sufficient protection for the countryside.

PPS22 specifically sets out the Government policy on achieving renewable energy targets including the maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment “through the creation of jobs directly related to renewable energy developments”. “In rural areas, renewable energy projects have the potential to play an increasingly important role in the diversification of rural economies.”

So, PPS7 (draft), having removed local landscape designations and even allowing developments in national designated areas, has to be read with PPS22 (draft) which instructs local planning authorities to promote and encourage the development of renewable energy resources. LPAs, also in PPS22, have to look at the wider environmental and economic benefits of all proposals for renewable energy projects and these are material considerations that have to be given significant weight in determining whether proposals should be granted planning permission.

Never mind that the Blackmore Vale will be blighted forever by these proposed wind turbines, never mind that the people living nearest them will have their lives blighted by noise from the turbines, never mind that we, the people who live here, think they are inappropriate, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister dictates that we cannot have a say in this matter. If some wind turbine developer fancies wrecking our landscape then the developer has the full and undivided support of the Government for the so-called greater good of achieving the Government’s energy targets. Even if we support other renewable energy projects in our area we can still be over-ridden. Even if our own local authority is supporting other renewable energy targets and our district is making great headway in achieving targets, our planning authority can be over-ridden because now the Government has provided moveable targets.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) is thrilled with this new PPS22 as they have lobbied the Government long and hard to achieve their ends, including having off-shore wind energy removed from targets. In their press release the BWEA “warmly welcomes the new PPS on renewable energy. PPS22 provides both the planning profession and the wind industry with a more sound footing from which to move forward in meeting the Government’s renewable energy target”.

Chris Tomlinson, Head of Onshore Wind at BWEA said, “We believe this new guidance will act as a positive shot in the arm for our industry. Together [with local planning authorities] we can drive forward the development of wind energy throughout England.”

BWEA wanted the new PPS as they were unhappy that England only had an average approval rate of 50% for wind turbine development compared with 90% in Scotland. Despite the fact that wind turbines are a controversial proposal the BWEA still consider a 50% approval rate to be low and are obviously looking for a similar approval rate as in Scotland.

The wind energy lobby knows that turbines are not popular and while other renewable technologies are underdeveloped the wind industry will use this PPS as a tool to put up as many turbines as possible before the Government sees sense and slows down this gallop towards ruining our countryside.

We must not allow this to happen and the Government must be lobbied to make them see sense. Wind energy is not the answer and the wind lobby knows this and will do everything it can to aid its members to obtain planning permission before the Government wakes up and finds our landscape ruined forever.