By Tim Montgomerie
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Today's Sunday Telegraph reports that one hundred Tory MPs have signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging a review of windfarms policy. I understand that the actual number is 101 Tories, 2 Labour, 2 Lib Dems and one DUP.
Posted below is the full text of the letter that was put together by Chris Heaton-Harris MP and people interested in this subject should read Ruth Lea's latest column. She sets out three things necessary to produce a "sane" green policy. It is likely that many ministers – notably George Osborne – are sympathetic to the letter. The problem is the small matter of Coalition government.
"The Rt. Hon David Cameron MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
LONDON, SW1A 2AA
30th January 2012
As Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, we have grown more and more concerned about the Government’s policy of support for on-shore wind energy production.
In these financially straightened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies on-shore wind turbines.
In the on-going review of renewable energy subsidies, we ask the Government to dramatically cut the subsidy for on-shore wind and spread the savings made between other types of reliable renewable energy production and energy efficiency measures.
We also are worried that the new National Planning Policy Framework, in its current form, diminishes the chances of local people defeating unwanted on-shore wind farm proposals through the planning system. Thus we attach some subtle amendments to the existing wording that we believe will help rebalance the system.
Finally, recent planning appeals have approved wind farm developments with the inspectors citing renewable energy targets as being more important than planning considerations. Taken to its logical conclusion, this means that it is impossible to defeat applications through the planning system. We would urge you to ensure that planning inspectors know that the views of local people and long established planning requirements should always be taken into account.
CHRIS HEATON-HARRIS MP AND 105 OTHER MPs"
Appendix 1 to the letter: Suggested amendments to paragraphs 152 and 153 of the NPPF
152. To help increase the use and supply of renewable and low-carbon energy, local planning authorities should recognise the responsibility on all communities to contribute to energy generation from renewable or low-carbon sources. They should:
- have a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable and low-carbon sources, including deep geothermal energy;
- design their policies to maximise renewable and low-carbon energy development while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily;
- identify suitable areas for renewable and low-carbon energy sources, and supporting infrastructure, where this would help secure the development of such sources and achieve an appropriate balance between environmental, social and economic objectives, including in particular the contribution of the rural landscape and heritage assets to economic development – See Footnote;
- support community-led initiatives for renewable and low carbon energy, including developments outside such areas being taken forward through neighbourhood planning; and
- identify opportunities where development can draw its energy supply from decentralised, renewable or low carbon energy supply systems and for co-locating potential heat customers and suppliers.
153. When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should apply the presumption in favour of sustainable development and in doing so should take full account of the requirements set out in paragraph 152 and the footnote and:
- not require applicants for energy development to demonstrate the overall need for renewable or low-carbon energy, recognising that overall compliance with national EU obligations as a whole is not a material consideration in relation to the acceptability of specific locations, and also recognise that even small-scale projects provide a valuable contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions;
- approve the application if its impacts are (or can be made) acceptable. Once opportunity areas for renewable and low-carbon energy have been mapped in plans, local planning authorities should also expect subsequent applications for commercial scale projects outside these areas to demonstrate compelling reasons why development should take place outside such areas; and
- identify and weigh all the separate forms of harm to other interests of acknowledged importance that would be likely to arise, including significant heritage assets, and ensure that development would provide wider benefits that would clearly outweigh the sum total of all the harm identified.
Footnote: In assessing the likely impacts of potential wind energy development in broad areas, and in determining planning applications for such development, including all non-domestic schemes irrespective of their scale, planning authorities should follow the approach set out in the National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (read with the relevant sections of the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy Infrastructure, including that on aviation impacts). Where plans identify areas as suitable for renewable and low-carbon energy development, they should make clear what criteria have determined their selection, including for what size of development the areas are considered suitable.