A renewable energy trade association has condemned the communities secretary’s “unprecedented interference” in wind farm projects as it published figures showing that Eric Pickles has intervened in 50 such applications since June 2013
Renewable UK says Pickles has recovered 45 projects for his own determination totalling 448 megawatts. A further two projects have been called in with a further three put on hold whilst he decides whether to call them in.
The last five decisions have been refusals against the recommendation of planning inspectors for approval
Maf Smith of Renewable UK said “These sites would have meant half a billion pounds in local investment creating more than 2,000 jobs.
“Eric Pickles is clearly relaxed about such unprecedented intervention in the planning system. He has politicised what should be an independent and impartial planning system with 98% of wind farm appeals now being decided by Mr Pickles himself”
Communities minister Kris Hopkins said, “Inappropriately sited wind turbines can be a blot on the landscape, harming the local environment and damaging heritage for miles around. The government has intentionally and transparently changed planning guidance and appeal “recovery” rules to ensure these issues are better taken into account”.
Exeter Planning’s view is that wind farms are rarely welcomed by local communities and by their nature are sited in rural (largely Conservative voting) areas. Closer scrutiny by Mr Pickles followed by a string of refusals could just possibly be a demonstration that the government are listening to local communities in the run up to a general election.
Furthermore, anyone who thinks planning has not always been political has never been to a planning committee meeting
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