Friday, 3 July 2015

Planning, wind turbines and public support?

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian focuses on planning again. It is as follows:

On 18th June, Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, issued a ministerial statement. It stated that, in the future, “local people” will “have the final say on wind farm applications.”

In particular, the statement said: “When determining planning applications for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines, local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if … following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.”

Put bluntly, this means that all applications for wind turbines that are not supported by the local community must be refused by the unitary authority.

The ruling has been welcomed by anti-turbine campaigners, while many people have been talking about the “death knell” of this aspect of the renewable energy industry.

My first thought on hearing the news was why should the need for public support in planning only apply to wind turbines? Why shouldn’t it also apply to solar farms or housing or industrial developments?

Indeed, it was less than one month ago that the Planning Inspector tasked with assessing the Cornwall Local Plan told the unitary authority that it’s proposal seeking “local community support” for affordable housing schemes in rural areas was an “unjustified impediment” to development. He instructed that it be removed.

It is also the case that, in recent years and months, there have been numerous planning appeals, where (upcountry) government inspectors have ignored the (often massive) opposition of local residents and allowed unpopular developments to go-ahead.

This included the incinerator development at St Dennis, which was sanctioned by a previous Secretary of State (Eric Pickles) in 2011. He later admitted that he didn’t even read the report prepared by his planning inspector.

More recently, planning inspectors have granted 90 new properties on land near Probus, which led one resident to describe the process as “iniquitous” and “democracy destroying.” And then there was the very recent series of adverse appeal decisions at Par (44 new properties) and St Austell (two developments of 131 and 190 new housing units), which were variously described by councillors as “ill-conceived” and “thoroughly bad.”

Surely, it cannot be right than public opinion is only a planning consideration for wind turbine applications, and not other equally controversial proposals. Where’s the consistency?


Diggerb said...

Im my opinion all planning applications submitted in respect of wind turbines..Solar Farms and large scale housing projects should be put to the public vote....Paul B...Fraddon..

PaulS said...

Dick's article clearly demonstrates how far MK still has to go to understand the utter disaster that Climate Chaos will be for Cornwall as well as the whole planet. MK are not alone. They have just joined a select group which includes UKIP and the Torries in their irresponsible attitude to the urgent need to convert all our energy from all forms of fossil fuels to renewables. This NIMBY attitude of 'oh no, we wouldn't like it if that horrible farmer put up a windmill on his field and we could occasionally spot it on the horizon' is pathetic and universally based on scaremongering by hoards of objectors. Of course, if faced with alleged noise, flicker, dominating structure, death and accidents due to the short term construction period and other equally silly accusations, people will rather play it safe and vote against change.

At a time when even the Pope is urging you, dear reader, to start taking care of the planet for the sake of your own kids and grand children and at a time when China, no less, is installing more renewables then the rest of the World put together, it is so sad and so dangerous for MK to jump on the bandwagon of uninformed fear with UKIP and the Torries. After all MK are supposed to care about Cornwall - and here they are, helping to destroy it.

Dick Cole said...

Mr Sousek.

I am very disappointed with your ill-judged dig at my article. If you bothered to re-read it, you would see that I made no comment on the merits of renewable energy - for or against - but used the article to point out the inconsistencies of central government's approach to the need for community support.


PaulS said...

That's the problem, Dick. Mk clearly does not yet understand that sitting on the fence, 'for or against' is a recipe for disaster which is becoming inevitable with every passing day. To be apparently 'fighting for Cornwall', but not fighting for the planet is just plain stupid and the sooner you realize that the better for all of us.