UK government extends rights to local communities for onshore wind projects

UK government has given the local communities the right to approve an onshore wind project development and also offered huge benefits to them for giving their consent for the construction.

The government has outlined a new planning guidance that increases benefit funds for local communities by five-fold to £150m. Also it has overruled importance of renewable energy targets over environmental and planning concerns of the locals.

Commenting on the developments, Secretary of State Edward Davey said the development of onshore wind energy should be in compliance with economical and environmental policies.

“This is an important sector that is driving economic growth, supporting thousands of new jobs and providing a significant share of our electricity and I’m determined that local communities should share in these benefits,” added Davey.

UK government, meanwhile, has urged onshore wind industry to review its Community Benefit Protocol by 2013-end including a community benefit increase in England. The community has increased funds from £1,000 per MW of installed capacity per year to £5,000per MW annually for the lifetime of the wind farm.

Upon giving their nod to a medium-sized 20MW wind farm, they can receive package of benefits worth £100,000 per year, or up to £400 a year off each household’s annual bill.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon remarked: “Today, we are putting local people at the heart of decision making on onshore wind. We are changing the balance to ensure that they are consulted earlier and have more say against poorly sited or inadequately justified turbines.”

RenewableUK has commended the step taken by the government extending benefits to the local communities along with giving the rights to question the location of the wind farm.

RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery, further, said: “We will have to re-examine the wind industry’s Community Benefits Protocol, devised by RenewableUK, and consult with our members to determine how we can achieve what the Government is asking us to provide.”