Winds of change

FOR once, the Government appears to be on the side of public opinion with its decision to empower those residents opposed to the construction of wind farms on their doorsteps. This is further highlighted by Ministers indicating that the new planning powers will even apply to those applications which are now the subject of public inquiries after permission was initially refused by 
town halls.

There were too many instances when the legitimate concerns of local residents played second whim to the wishes of those firms determined to impose large turbines on communities, even though the efficiency of wind power remains open to question.

Yet, while most people realise that Britain has to develop a wider range of energy sources to keep the lights burning, insufficient regard has been given to the need to compensate homeowners for agreeing to the construction of wind turbines – possibly through discounted bills.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As Paul Miner, a senior campaigner at the CPRE, said: “If it is considered to be in an acceptable location, developers should be much more prepared to share the large profits that they are guaranteed from a major new wind farm.”

On this basis, Energy Secretary Ed Davey’s climbdown helps to redress this balance – while also enabling schemes to be built in areas where the impact on the natural environment will be minimal.

Given that wind power makes up a small proportion of Britain’s energy mix, the consequences will be minimal. Yet, to compensate for any lower output, Mr Davey could examine whether energy efficiency rules need to be strengthened for new homes – each of the main parties is, after all, predicting a boom in house building and it is important that properties are built to the most eco-friendly specifications.