The new DCLG published planning guidance for renewable energy is unlikely to resolve tensions around renewable and planning, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA).
The guidance replaces the existing advice and is much more detailed with regards to planning, proposing tighter restrictions on building waste sites on the Green Belt.
The REA has expressed concerns that the guidance will do little to resolve the “wider political tensions” around renewables and planning.
REA chief executive, Dr Nina Skorupska, said: “It’s hard to see how this guidance will assist in delivering the expansion of renewable energy the Government and the country need.
Paul Thompson, REA – “The REA has always argued that project developers are best placed to identify potential sites,” he said, “and that it’s better for planners to provide written criteria rather than maps to guide them on how their prospective projects are likely to be viewed”
“Renewable energy supports energy security, emissions reduction, jobs and green growth – and no one would disagree that renewables must be deployed responsibly and be sensitive to local concerns. The difficult decisions arise when considering the details, and this document fails to offer clarity to those on either side of the debate.
The guidance aims to help local authorities identify suitable areas for renewables projects and recommends against reliance on “buffer zones” and “exclusion distances”. It also recognises the role of community involvement in renewables.
REA head of policy, Paul Thompson, said: “Community-initiated or owned projects, as well as projects promoted by industry but with a proportion of community-ownership, play an important role in building acceptance and engagement and are to be encouraged. There are many routes to this, including the Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders mentioned in the guidance.”
The guidance also suggests new proposals that will make it more difficult to develop waste treatment sites in the Green Belt.
Paul Thompson said this is “problematic” because “as it is important to develop sites in proximity to biowaste arisings in order to maximise their value for compost and biogas.
“The REA has always argued that project developers are best placed to identify potential sites,” he said, “and that it’s better for planners to provide written criteria rather than maps to guide them on how their prospective projects are likely to be viewed.”
To read the guidance in full CLICK HERE