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Onshore wind farms - locals to have final say

Following today's announcement that subsidies for onshore wind will be cut from 1 April 2016, Communities Secretary Greg Clark has now revealed that local residents will have the final say as to whether applications for onshore wind farms are successful.

From today, local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if:

  • the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and
  • following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and the proposal has their backing.

It is important to note that these provisions do not only apply to large scale wind farm developments; local planning authorities will be bound by these criteria in relation to planning applications involving one or more wind turbines.  This effectively means that all onshore wind development, even that of a very small scale, will be affected.

If a planning application has already been submitted, it will not automatically be refused if the development plan does not identify suitable sites. However, the local planning authority must be satisfied that the project has the backing of the local community.

Although this was expected following a commitment in the Conservative election manifesto, it is interesting to see that Mr Clark has not opted for a referendum on each individual scheme which might have been the worst case scenario.  However, this does move some of the battle from individual schemes to the Local and Neighbourhood Plan process, which will be a new arena for wind farm developers.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at June 2015. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases; we cannot be held responsible for any action (or decision not to take action) made in reliance upon the content of this publication.

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