Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Europe
The Audit Commission's inspection of Berwick Borough Council says that, overall, the council is improving after being judged "weak" four years ago, but that improvements in its development control service are insufficient to meet Government targets. The report follows criticism of the council's method of paying consultants to prepare reports on plans, notably three wind farm proposals which had been with the authority for up to three and a half years. ..."The service is struggling to deal with a legacy of more complex major applications and none of these are currently being processed within government target times. Applicant satisfaction with the service is low."
Plans for Britain's biggest land-based wind farm were turned down by the Scottish government yesterday, in a landmark decision with wide implications for the future development of renewable energy in the UK. The 181-turbine development on the Hebridean island of Lewis was vetoed by Scottish ministers because it was at odds with tough protection for wildlife sites afforded by European law. The site was designated as the Lewis Peatlands special protection area under the EU's birds directive to protect its rare breeding birds including the golden eagle, merlin, red-throated diver, black-throated diver, golden plover, dunlin and greenshank. ..."This is an extremely commendable decision ... that is absolutely right for Scotland," said Stuart Housden, director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Scotland. "It sends a very strong message that in meeting our ambitious and welcome renewable targets, we do not have to sacrifice our most important environmental resources."
A public inquiry in southern Scotland looks set to be delayed to allow the impact of wind turbines on radar systems to be assessed. A Scottish Government reporter has asked for the Blackcraig wind farm hearing to be suspended until October. The inquiry is considering Scottish and Southern Energy's plans to build 23 turbines in the Galloway hills. The delay would allow National Air Traffic Services to give evidence of the effect on radar technology. ...The potential effect of wind turbines on radar systems has been raised at a number of developments recently. The Ministry of Defence has objected to some proposals on those grounds, but its claims have been contested by power companies.
A major wind farm developer has asked European Commissioners to acknowledge support for its 181-turbine proposal for Barvas Moor on Lewis. Lewis Wind Power (LWP) will be one group at a European Parliament event discussing the Europe-wide Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Sites covered by the Natura 2000 designation include Lewis peat bogs. LWP said the designation should not hinder developments which could bring benefits to remote communities. ...The Natura 2000 event is to be held on Wednesday by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). European Commissioners are expected to attend.
People in a cluster of the North's former mining villages are preparing to speak out against plans to build a 13-turbine wind farm. Scottish Power subsidiary CRE Energy wants to erect the 121m-high turbines on farmland west of the Alcan aluminium complex at Lynemouth, which would be 40 metres taller than the smelter's landmark chimneys. ...Castle Morpeth councillors rejected the CRE Energy application a year ago, claiming the turbines will be excessive and over-dominant in the flat, coastal landscape. But the company has said it is confident of succeeding with its appeal. Its original bid for 16 turbines was scaled down because of local opposition.
Controversial plans to install six wind turbines on top of a historic council building and a 20m generator on a public lawn are to be considered again. The proposals, for King's House in Grand Avenue, Hove, were initially withdrawn after councillors decided they needed more time for consideration. ... Opposition councillors claimed the scheme had been shelved because it was unpopular with the area's councillors and people living in central Hove. The plans were sent back to the council's sustainability commission, which was supposed to rule on whether the project should go to a planning committee. But instead councillors on the group complained the report was lacking in detail and asked for a more in-depth study.
Protesters have labelled the decision to give the go-ahead for a £90 million wind farm in east Sutherland as a disaster. The Scottish Government announced this week that it had approved the 35-turbine wind farm at Gordonbush, Strath Brora, which will generate 87.5 megawatts of electricity ...Energy minister Jim Mather called it "a good example of a sensitively scaled and sited wind farm operating in harmony with the environment". But opponents pointed out that approval had been granted even though no habitat management plan had been agreed and the access route was still uncertain. Sutherland landowner Edward Reeves of Suisgill Estate, a supporter of local anti-wind farm action group Landscape, claimed the decision represented a failure in democracy. "This is a disastrous decision for Brora and Helmsdale and for the few remaining stretches of wild land in the Highland," he said. "When democracy fails, where do you turn?"
As someone who fought against the erection of three 95 metre high turbines at Loscar Farm, I must say that I am at a loss with the decision of the Rotherham Planning Committee to sanction the go-ahead. ...At the final planning meeting, one councillor declared that they knew all about global warming because they lived at Catcliffe and had suffered as a result of recent floods! Does that qualify them as an expert on the subject? Belief that the turbines will halt global warming is naive. They are built for the purpose of obtaining Government subsidies paid to developers.
Ministers yesterday gave the go-ahead for a 35-turbine wind farm despite opposition from campaigners who said it would result in the "second Highland Clearances". First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the approval for the Gordonbush development near Brora, Sutherland, which will be able to power 37,000 homes. Objectors' concerns were raised last July when Mr Salmond unveiled a statue in nearby Helmsdale to commemorate those who left the Highlands during the clearances and began new lives overseas.
Wind developers are to be warned to stop ignoring airports and fully consult before putting in plans for turbines in parts of Northumberland. The North East Assembly has written to the Government insisting that when the region's planning master plan is produced this summer it includes a line forcing developers to check there are no radar objections likely to scupper proposals. The NEA is producing a Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which has to first be approved by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The final version will be used as a legal guide underpinning every planning decision made in the North East.
EON is set for a showdown with the Ministry of Defence after it submitted a planning application for a £700m ($1.4 billion USD) offshore wind farm despite objections from the ministry. The energy company's move to push ahead with the Humber Gateway wind farm, which would be one of the largest in the UK, is the first new project to have been proposed since John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) revealed a plan to install 33 gigawatts of wind energy by 2020. That is up from the 1gw that is generated from wind power in the country today. The MoD has objected to the project, set to be located about 5 miles off the East Yorkshire coast, because it could interfere with radar equipment.
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) - which heads up the drive to ensure 15 per cent of the UK's energy comes from renewables by 2020 - has also been working hard on finding ways around the objections. Military fears over the impact of the turbines creating blackspots on radar has seen more than 40 proposals blocked, while agencies of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have used the threat of flooding and the impact on wildlife to put forward objections to both onshore and offshore wind farms. But the British Wind Energy Association insisted Government departments had to work harder to overcome the objections to pursue the higher goal of cutting carbon emissions. Charles Anglin, BWEA director of communications, told the WMN: "If the UK is going to meet its tough new targets for renewable energy and tackle climate change, then the Government agencies like the Ministry of Defence and the Environment Agency have to play their part.
There is a serious danger that three wind power proposals above Todmorden will be "fast tracked" through the planning appeal process, and local concerns set aside in favour of the Government's "green" energy targets, say local campaigners. Planning appeals for wind power sites on Todmorden Moor, Crook Hill and Reaps Moss will be put together in one appeal hearing later this year, according to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. Local campaigners against the wind turbines are very concerned that the three sites proposed, with a total of 20, 410ft high turbines, will be treated by the Inspectorate as one big wind farm. If the total installed capacity is 60MW or over, the Inspectorate refer to it as a site "of major importance having more than local significance". ..."We must not let this happen," said Robin Pennie. "No energy company has the right to assume Government targets should take precedence over local risk."
Wind farm objectors in the Alnwick area are hoping that a decision to reject three applications near Berwick will impact on the ruling for the proposals near North Charlton. Berwick Borough Council's planning committee last week rejected bids for 20 turbines at three sites south west of Berwick - Moorsyde, Barmoor and Toft Hill. Objectors to plans for an 18-turbine plant at Middlemoor, which went to a public inquiry last year, hope the inspector's ruling will go the same way. Meanwhile, the applicants of the three schemes which were denied planning permission confirmed they will appeal.
Three wind farm proposals within close proximity of each other have been rejected by Berwick Borough Council. There were jubilant scenes inside a packed Maltings theatre as councillors reached their decision after a marathon six hour planning meeting. Planning officers had been recommending approval of a seven turbine scheme at Moorsyde, near Ancroft, and a six turbine scheme at Barmoor, near Lowick.
Some 150 people packed a public meeting to hear about a wind farm at East Stoke - a "thorny issue" which is dividing the Purbeck community. The crowd heard arguments for and against the plans for six 125m turbines up at Masters Pit quarry from Infinergy, the green energy company behind the plan, and action group Dorset Against Wind Turbines (Dart). The meeting, at D'Urberville Hall, Wool, on Monday, was called by East Stoke Parish Council and chaired by Councillor Barry Quinn. ...Dart members took an unofficial straw poll at the end of the meeting and counted 94 per cent against the turbines and just eight in support. Terry Stewart, chairman of Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England, which is working with Dart, said: "There was certainly strong feeling. "We are extremely glad local residents are facing up to some of the realities of these proposals."
Mr MacLeod said: 'It would appear that proposals for single, or a small number of turbines, are being subject to similar levels of scrutiny as planning applications from large commercial wind farms. "I am greatly concerned at the length of time taken for projects to go through the planning process.
The SNP Government intends to do nothing about the number of speculative planning applications for onshore wind farms being made in Perthshire, it was revealed in a parliamentary answer to MSP Murdo Fraser. In a parliamentary question, Murdo asked the SNP Government how it intends to reduce the number of speculative planning applications for onshore wind farms. In response, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Stewart Stevenson stated: "Under planning legislation there are no powers to prevent planning applications being made. ..."It is disappointing that the SNP Government is not prepared to create ‘no go' areas for applications. I believe that large parts of Perthshire should be automatically ruled out for a wind farm application due to their natural beauty and importance to the local tourism industry."
More than 150 people were at the meeting organised by the group opposed to the proposed Viking Energy windfarm. Chairman Billy Fox stressed that the group was not against windfarms or renewable energy projects, but it had concerns about the scale of the Viking Energy project for financial and environmental reasons. Mr Fox said there would be "no winners" in this, and the "silent majority" were opposed to the proposed windfarm. He said Shetland should be concentrating on conservation, domestic projects and small-scale renewable energy schemes such as in Fair Isle and Foula.
Councillors yesterday overwhelmingly rejected three proposals for wind farms in Northumberland. Berwick Borough Council's planning committee came out against applications for turbines at Barmoor, Moorsyde and Toft Hill at the climax of an all-day meeting at the town's Maltings Theatre. The committee voted by eight to one to reject Force 9 Energy and Catamount Energy's six turbine Barmoor scheme and Your Energy's seven turbine Moorsyde proposal, although officers had recommended both for approval. Councillors also voted against npower renewables' seven-turbine Toft Hill project, in line with officers' recommendations. A crowd of about 300 objectors and supporters had turned out and the decisions drew loud applause and cheers.