New planning guidance gives local communities greater say on wind and solar farm developments

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The Department for Communities and Local Government has published updated planning guidance for renewable and low carbon energy.  The guidance makes it clear that the pressure for developing renewable energy does not “automatically override local environmental and heritage protections and the concerns of local communities.”  The guidance details the environmental, heritage and landscape issues that should be taken into account when planning decisions are taken.

For large scale ground mounted solar farms some specific factors include, energy output, encouraging effective use of previously developed land, effect of glint and glare and an emphasis on taking into account impact on heritage assets, conservation of heritage assets consistent with their significance and impact on views important to the setting.

Wind power development has by far the most points to be taken into account including, energy output, noise, safety (particularly buildings, aircraft, power lines, defence operations, radar and roads), electro-magnetic interference, risk to ecology, heritage, shadow and flicker, cumulative impact on landscape and visual impact, and decommissioning.

The guidance was welcomed by RenewableUK, which noted that the new document would not only provide greater policy certainty for developers but would also block proposed “buffer zones” around properties.

For more information, help or advice please contact our Energy Team on 0191 211 7777 or email [email protected].