MP in a spin over turbines

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Daventry’s MP Chris Heaton-Harris has welcomed new rules governing granting planning permission to wind turbines.

On Thursday last week in the Commons Mr Heaton-Harris questioned the Minister for Housing Mark Prisk about announcements made by the Government over planning rules for turbines.

The new guidelines state the need for renewable energy does not ‘automatically override’ environmental protections or the concerns of local people. It also directs planners to take into account cumulative impact of turbines, and local topography, plus it says care should be taken to ensure heritage assets are conserved including the impact of turbines on views.

Mr Prisk summed up by saying: “Put simply, meeting our energy goals should not be used to justify the wrong development in the wrong location.” Since being elected in 2010 Mr Heaton-Harris has lobbied the Government over wind turbine planning rules

He said: “What will be the impact of the policy change on proposed developments that are currently in the planning process, particularly those that are in the planning appeals system and whose 
appeal has been concluded but the result is not yet known?

“Will the proposed change be retrospective for schemes that have been granted planning permission against the wishes of local communities or councils, but whose construction has not yet started?

“For too long, developers have ridden roughshod over the views of local communities and local councils on inappropriately sited wind turbines.”

Adding: “I really believe that this could be the beginning of the end of unwanted onshore wind farm development in England, and I welcome the Minister’s statement.”

The minister said the Government would be writing to councils and the Planning Inspectorate to highlight the new rules.

In response to a question from Wellingborough MP Peter Bone on councils refusing planning permission for turbines only to face them being granted on appeal, the minister said: “What most constituents have been concerned about – I am, perhaps, speaking now as a constituency MP – is that they feel their views are ridden roughshod over. That is what my hon. Friend referred to, and that is what we are seeking to correct.”