Homes exclusion zone call for wind turbines

New rules to stop wind turbines being built close to homes were put forward in the Commons.

New rules to stop wind turbines being built close to homes were put forward in the Commons.

Tory Peter Luff (Mid Worcestershire) said imposing a half-mile exclusion zone around houses for all but the smallest wind turbines would help communities that currently feel "threatened and powerless".

He also said the measure would speed the planning process and boost the wind power industry by helping them select the right sites but conceded his proposals stood "no chance" of becoming law due to a lack of parliamentary time.

Instead Luff said he wanted to stimulate debate on the issue, adding: "I am clear that there must be a reasonable space between such giants and local communities."

His Onshore Wind Turbines (Proximity of Habitation) Bill was based on the principle of "do as you would be done by", Luff told the Commons.

It would impose minimum distances between wind turbines and homes depending on their height.

Turbines up to 25 metres high would face no restrictions, while those between 26 metres and 50 metres would have to be half a mile away.

An exclusion zone of at least a mile would be imposed on turbines 51 metres to 100 metres high and those over 100 metres high would have to be at least 1.5 miles away from homes.

The new rules would not apply to projects approved by local communities and existing planning restrictions would remain in place.

Luff conceded the limits were "arbitrary" but said: "We have to draw the line somewhere and this is where I propose the line should be drawn for wind turbines."

He had come up with the legislation after hearing of a constituency case where a turbine equivalent to a 40-storey building was due to be built 508 metres from a house.

"That's just too close," Luff said, citing concerns about noise, the health effects of turbines and their visual impact.

Such a project would not be allowed in Germany, parts of Spain and Italy and would trigger compensation payments in Denmark, he said, telling MPs that England and Wales "stand alone" in not having guidelines.

Luff insisted his Bill was not a covert attack on energy firms or a denial of climate change but a recognition that turbines should be built "only in the right place".

He added: "This is a Bill designed to help communities who feel threatened and powerless in the face of intrusive planning applications, but one that will also speed up the planning process for well-sited windfarms.

"It should help householders and communities, local authorities who currently lack adequate guidance on wind turbine locations and the wind farm industry to pursue the right sites."

But Liberal Democrat Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) said it would have the "perverse result" of increasing pressure on rural areas to accept turbine projects that could no longer be built in urban environments.

Arguing it sent a "clear message of opposition to wind power", he added: "In the end local people should decide and we shouldn't be committing our usual error in this place of creating inflexible and arbitrary rules that will do more harm than good."

The Bill, which has cross-party support, received a first reading but stands little chance of becoming law.

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