Nearly half of all onshore wind farms in England and Wales are now being refused planning permission, according to data obtained by the commercial law firm McGrigors.
The percentage of onshore wind farms being refused planning permission has risen sharply over the last five years, said the legal firm. It noted that in 2005 around 29 per cent of onshore wind farms in England and Wales were refused planning permission. By 2009 the relevant proportion was 33 per cent reaching 48 per cent in 2010.
Some 32 applications for onshore wind farms were rejected in 2010 out of 66, according to information obtained by McGrigors under the Freedom of Information Act.
Jacqueline Harris, a partner at McGrigors, commented: “We are dealing with an increasing number of complaints and appeals from wind farm developers who are concerned that attitudes towards wind energy are hardening, particularly at a local level where they feel they do not get a balanced hearing.”
She added: "There is little willingness to consider the benefits of renewable energy generation in context - the national interest is being overridden by local concerns."
In a related development Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has allowed on appeal two out of three onshore wind farms refused by Fenland District Council.
He has allowed Ecogen’s proposal for a five-turbine scheme at Boardinghouse Farm, March, and a separate scheme, also rejected by the district council, involving a three-turbine scheme at Burnthouse Farm, proposed by Fivestones Ltd. However, a neighbouring nine-turbine scheme at Flood’s Ferry Farm proposed by Scottish Power was rejected by Pickles on the grounds of its adverse cumulative impact.
Meanwhile, RWE npower has won its legal challenge over a Welsh Assembly Government decision to block plans for what would be Wales’ tallest onshore wind farm. The scheme was rejected by Swansea City Council and this was upheld by the Government on the recommendation of the planning inspector who held the public inquiry.
However, a high court judge has ruled that the reasoning in rejecting the energy company’s appeal was deficient and the decision revisited. RWE npower is hoping to build 19 turbines up to 127 metres high on common land at Mynydd y Gwair, Felindre, near Swansea.
14 July 2011