UK - Planning reform provides key to wind energy delivery

The BWEA welcomes Barker Review

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) has today welcomed the Barker Review’s findings and recommendations, which put sustainability right at the heart of the planning system, identifying planning as playing a vital role in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Chris Tomlinson, Director of Operations at the British Wind Energy Association, stated: "This is a good day for planning and climate change in the UK. BWEA welcomes the recognition given to the importance of wind energy developments and the wider sustainability and climate change agenda. With a potential 5% of the UK’s electricity supplies currently held up in the planning system from onshore wind projects alone, it is high time for urgent action on planning reforms to reflect the scale and urgency of the climate change challenge. In response to this, it is encouraging to see a range of positive initiatives set out in the Review, many of which BWEA have been campaigning for over recent months.”

BWEA has been calling for action in a number of areas, which were identified in the Review:
- a rapid increase in the turnaround of planning decisions
- an increase in planning resources to reflect changing priorities ring-fencing business rates for local communities
- permitted development rights for micro-wind installations.

The Review also places emphasis on major infrastructure projects which is welcome as two thirds of capacity from onshore wind energy projects in the planning system fall into this category. However, a further 2,500 MW of potential is derived from smaller onshore wind energy developments which will be determined under the local planning process. It is therefore imperative that local planning authorities and their planning committees are aware of the Government’s refocus on carbon emissions, sustainability and climate change and that these become a key consideration in making planning decisions.

BWEA continues to press the Government of the importance in utilising the Statement of National Need for Renewable Energy as set out in the Energy Review.

Tomlinson highlighted, “The robust and positive Statement of National Need for Renewable Energy accurately reflects the energy security and climate change priorities of our time. However, this serves little purpose unless it is read and understood by planning officers and planning committees across the land and Government should be highlighting that this statement is a material planning consideration in all planning decisions for renewable energy projects.” The emphasis on speeding up the planning process is particularly supported, given that the average decision time in England for onshore wind projects is 15 months.

BWEA has consistently proposed the need for evolving targets for decision making at the local level to provide an incentive to decision makers once the statutory 16 week target for decisions has been missed. If 90% of decisions were to be made in 26 weeks and 100% in 52 weeks, then investor confidence would markedly increase in England’s planning system thereby promoting economic development, one of the key aims of the Barker Review.

Tomlinson concluded with a note of caution: “What we have seen today is a positive signal from a comprehensive review of the planning system, but as ever, time is of the essence and we would urge Government to implement these recommendations as soon as possible and ensure that in the meantime, local planning authorities are encouraged to make decisions in reasonable timescales. BWEA are keen to work with Government to provide valuable industry input on the impact of these recommendations on their renewable energy targets for 2010 and beyond.”

For further information or comment contact Chris Tomlinson, BWEA Directors of Operations, on 020 7689 1935 / 07815 141 008 / chris@bwea.com
British Wind Energy Association
Chris Tomlinson
www.bwea.com /...
wind energy, renewable energy, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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