New planning guidance for wind and solar farms will give communities greater say over the siting of wind and solar farms.
The guidance is designed to help officials interpret the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was published last year. This encourages the development of renewable energy projects to meet a national target for 15 per cent of the UK’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.
According to the new guidance, communities have a responsibility to help increase the use and supply of green energy, but that ‘this does not mean that the need for renewable energy automatically overrides environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities’. As with other types of development, it notes, ‘it is important that the planning concerns of local communities are properly heard in matters that directly affect them’.
The renewable energy industry has welcomed the guidance. Trade association RenewableUK told The Guardian that the new document would not only provide great policy certainty for developers, but would also block proposed ‘buffer zones’ around properties.
Friends of the Earth’s Planning Campaigner Naomi Luhde-Thompson remarked that under the guidance, clean energy schemes such as wind turbines could be rejected on visual grounds, ‘while fracking operations that threaten local communities and pollute our atmosphere could be given a virtual green light’.