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Government advisers say new regime may be needed for wind farms

The Coalition should consider new planning legislation to ensure national priorities on carbon reduction are translated into sufficient onshore wind farms, Government advisers have signalled.

That’s the stance of the independent Committee on Climate Change which has published a review of the administration’s renewable energy aspirations.

The CCC has identified onshore wind schemes as one of the cheapest low-carbon options for meeting the UK’s carbon targets.

But it pointed out that there were “questions over the scale at which it can be deployed given uncertainties relating to site availability and planning, in turn reflecting concerns about the local visual impact”.

The committee said that over six gigawatts of new onshore wind capacity could be added in the 2020s.

It stressed that planning approval rates for onshore wind have historically been low (i.e. under 50 per cent) and the period for approval long (e.g. almost two years).

It underlined the importance of community buy-in schemes through the sharing of financial benefits and applauded the Government’s policy in this area.

However, the committee voiced concern that this might not be enough to gain sufficient local public support and suggested there was a case for central Government decisions to support the imperatives of its carbon budgets “possibly under new planning legislation that explicitly sets this out”.

Read the Committee on Climate Change report.

Roger Milne

12 May 2011