Government response

Local planning and onshore wind farms

Communities Minister Kris Hopkins responds to an article in The Guardian on onshore wind farm planning.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Kris Hopkins said:

Polly Toynbee’s suggestion that the government is ‘over-riding local planning’ on onshore wind farms is inaccurate and misleading (The Guardian, 28 October 2014). Her attack on ministerial decisions failed to mention that these were on recovered planning appeals: cases where the elected local council had refused or not approved the original application. The ‘assault on localism’ she infers has been coming from the wind farm developers seeking to overturn that local refusal by the council.

All planning appeals are considered with due process and a fair hearing in light of planning policy and the local circumstances. However, there has been real public concern that inappropriately-sited onshore wind turbines have been a blot on the landscape, harming the local environment and damaging heritage for miles around.

Hence, back in July 2013, the coalition government, with collective agreement from both Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers, openly changed national planning guidance to ensure that proper weight should be given to the protection of England’s valuable landscape and heritage, and we have sought to ensure planning appeals decisions properly reflect that guidance. For that, we make no apology and ministers are happy to be held to account to Parliament and the public.

Promoting renewable energy and protecting the global environment is a worthy cause, but we shouldn’t needlessly trash the local environment in the process.

Published 31 October 2014