Local Planning and Renewable Energy Developments

Communities and Local Government written statement – made on 10th October 2013.

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Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Planning works best when communities themselves have the opportunity to influence the decisions that affect their lives.

My Department published new planning practice guidance in the summer to help ensure the planning concerns raised by local communities are given proper weight in planning decisions on onshore renewable energy 29 July 2013, House of Lords, Official Report, 162-164WS. The national planning policy framework includes strong protections for the natural and historic environment. Yet, some local communities have genuine concerns that when it comes to developments such as wind turbines and solar farms insufficient weight is being given to local environmental considerations like landscape, heritage and local amenity. The new guidance makes it clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the views of local communities should be listened to.

The new planning practice guidance has been published to assist local councils and planning inspectors in their consideration of local plans and individual planning applications. Of course, planning is a quasi-judicial process, and every application needs to be considered on its individual merits, with due process, in the light of the relevant material considerations.

I want to give particular scrutiny to planning appeals involving renewable energy developments so that I can consider the extent to which the new practice guidance is meeting the Government’s intentions. To this end, I am hereby revising the appeals recovery criteria and will consider for recovery appeals for renewable energy developments. This new criterion is added to the recovery policy issued on 30 June 2008 and will be applied for a period of six months from today after which it will be reviewed.

For the avoidance of doubt, this does not mean that all renewable energy appeals will be recovered, but that planning Ministers are likely to recover a number of appeals in order to assess the application of the planning practice guidance at national level.