Winds of change welcomed by MP Eric Ollerenshaw

Eric Ollerenshaw MP

Eric Ollerenshaw MP

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Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw says it is a pity the Government’s new “more balanced” approach to windfarms cannot be back-dated.

Speaking after the announcement residents will be allowed an earlier involvement in discussion about turbine plans, coupled with a five-fold increase in the benefits to be paid to local communities by developers, the MP said: “I feel this guidance has given a far more balanced approach to wind farm proposals and will pass on potential financial benefits to those who are prepared to have a wind farm and greater say for those who don’t.”

But Mr Ollerenshaw added:“It is a real pity that this cannot be made retrospective, but at least the Government has been listening to our concerns and it does strengthen the voice of our local communities.”

National planning guidance is now being changed to make clear the need for renewable energy does not automatically override concerns of local communities.

The Government claims changes will give people a much greater say over wind farms in their communities, shifting the balance of power to local communities in deciding whether to agree to onshore wind proposals.

Households will also get a generous reduction in their energy bills if they allow wind farms to be built in their local area. It is thought for some families this could help them save up to £400 a year.

New planning guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government will make clear the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities.

It will give greater weight to landscape and visual impact concerns, especially for heritage sites.

The law is to be changed to make consultation with local communities compulsory for the more significant onshore wind projects, before planning permission is applied for.

Where local councils have identified areas suitable for wind farm projects they will not be obliged to give planning permission if they think the impact on the local area will be unacceptable.