Wind farms

Almost half of new wind farm plans turned down

Around half of all new applications for onshore wind farms in England and Wales are being rejected, it has been revealed.

Freedom of Information data obtained by commercial law firm McGrigors shows that the percentage of onshore wind installations being refused planning permission hit 48 per cent last year - up from 29 per cent in 2005 and 33 per cent in 2009.

Law firm McGrigors, which represents companies in the energy sector among others, said 32 out of 66 applications were turned down last year, attributing this to local opposition and town halls looking after their own interests.

"We are dealing with an increasing number of complaints and appeals from wind-farm developers who are concerned that attitudes towards wind energy are hardening, particularly at a local level where they feel they do not get a balanced hearing," said McGrigors partner Jacqueline Harris.

"There is little willingness to consider the benefits of renewable energy generation in context - the national interest is being overridden by local concerns."

This could derail ambitious government aims for renewables to meet a third of electricity demand by 2020, with wind power expected to deliver a fifth.

With local people seldom looking sympathetically on wind turbines near their properties, the new focus on the localism agenda will make it even harder to get the go-ahead for new wind farms, Harris added.

But the wind industry recently agreed a protocol which will see communities paid a minimum of £1,000 a year per megawatt of wind power installed as part of efforts to make onshore wind more palatable.

The average onshore wind turbine is around 2.3 megawatts.

The money paid for the turbines by firms installing and running wind farms could go to community trusts to pay for local good causes or give residents discounts on their bills.

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