Thursday, June 06, 2013

Communities to have more say over Wind Farms

The coaltion government will give local communities more powers to block onshore wind farms, but also given better community benefits packages when they do agree to accept them, it was announced this week.

Planning guidance in England will be changed to ensure local opposition can override national energy targets. There will also be a five-fold rise in the benefits paid by developers to communities hosting wind farms.

The subsidies - worth about £100,000 a year from a medium-sized farm - could be used to reduce energy bills. Alternatively, the money could pay for energy efficiencies in the host community or fund other local initiatives.

The government said the measures would ensure local communities had a greater stake in the planning process. It also said it expected the energy industry to improve its community benefit packages by the end of the year.

The increase in community benefits packages will be from £1,000 per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity per year, to £5,000 per MW per year, for the lifetime of the wind farm.

This means a medium-sized 20 MW wind farm could produce a benefits package to the local community worth £100,000 a year.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said that

"We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity”

It will be up to local communities and developers to decide how any money is spent.

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