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Boss calls for county to make decisions

PUBLISHED: 05:21 28 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:22 24 February 2010

THE BOSS of a leading renewable energy firm is calling for planning decisions over wind farms to be taken away from district councils and put in the hands of county authorities.

THE BOSS of a leading renewable energy firm is calling for planning decisions over wind farms to be taken away from district councils and put in the hands of county authorities.

Dale Vince, managing director of Ecotricity , the firm behind plans for a wind farm at a so far undisclosed location in the Sizewell area, said while the Government was trying to promote wind power its new White Paper on energy had failed to confront the technology's biggest obstacle – planning consent.

“At the moment eight out of ten wind power applications fail to gain planning consent. Why? Because the decision lies in the hands of the local council. No other significant development in the UK is dealt with at this level,” Mr Vince said.

“Regional targets are great in theory but the decision-making needs to be put in the hands of the county councils who are used to thinking strategically on such important issues.

“If the Government leaves the system as it stands wind energy targets cannot be translated into action on the ground,” he added.

Mr Vince, whose company built the large wind turbine at Swaffham in Norfolk, welcomed the Government's decision not to support further nuclear development but criticised the level of funding being given to renewable energies.

“The Government has set aside £3 billion for war and is still propping up the cost of old nuclear with £200 million a year – just to maintain the status quo.

“By comparison the renewables industry is given £100 million full stop. If it fails to replace nuclear in the mix it will be due to lack of Government commitment, in terms of funding and its failure to address the planning system,” he added.

Bill Richmond, chairman of Ipswich-based renewable energy company, Your Energy, said it did not think it was necessary to move planning decisions from district to county councils.

“What we do need is for everyone to get together to recognise that more wind energy development is coming and to make efforts to find the right locations to accommodate it,” he added.

Mr Richmond said he expected new planning guidance to be published by the Government later this year would result in district councils being more sympathetic to wind power applications.

Your Energy is currently looking at two potential wind energy sites in Suffolk and is set to announce positive proposals within the next few months.

John Pitchford, strategic policy manager for Suffolk County Council said the authority supported renewable energy projects “in the right location” and a policy was set out in the County Structure Plan.

“We will be looking at how we can work with district councils in the future to implement this policy,” he added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk


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