“Increasingly hostile planning environment”
The Independent, December 25, 2015
Councils across the country are now rejecting over a third of all onshore renewable wind projects – often refusing planning permission even when they meet all the necessary statutory requirements.
Official government figures show that in the past year local authorities in England have granted planning permission for just 39 onshore wind projects while rejecting another 23 proposals. Another 17 projects were abandoned during the planning process.
In contrast, over the same period councils in Scotland approved 79 projects while rejecting just over 20.
The figures, released annually, also show that a high proportion of solar-energy farms are being rejected. While the rate of approval has improved over the past two years, around a quarter of all projects are still being turned down.
Industry figures say privately that they are facing an increasingly hostile planning environment where local and national politics often trumps fulfilling planning requirements.
They point to rule changes announced after the election that mean wind turbines can only get the go-ahead if they have been backed by local people in neighbourhood plans.
Firms say that the planning process alone can cost them upwards of £100,000 in fees and other related costs.
Ashley Seager, director of the solar energy firm Sun4net, said: “There is no question that it has got tougher to get planning permission … The Tories hate solar and wind because they think it loses them votes to Ukip.”
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said planning decision were a matter for local councils.