The Local Plan for the Broads: Issues and Options Consultation

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18. Wind energy

18.1 Introduction18.2 Current approach18.3 What do other Local Planning Authorities do?

18.1 Introduction

Currently, the National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG)[20] says ‘Suitable areas for wind energy development for wind energy development will need to have been allocated clearly in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan’ and also ‘In the case of wind turbines, a planning application should not be approved unless the proposed development site is an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan’.

This stance was set out in the Written Ministerial Statement from June 2015, which says: ‘When determining planning applications for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines, local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if:

  • the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and
  • following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing’.

The only threshold is ‘one or more’ and there is no distinction made between commercial and domestic turbines.

It should be noted that there are permitted development rights for domestic microgeneration equipment and these cover the sort of wind turbines that householders might wish to install on their properties. There are certain restrictions within the permitted development rights and there are also criteria that must be met. These permitted development rights, however, do not apply in the Broads so any such proposal will require planning permission.

The British Energy Security Strategy (April 2022) says ‘In the more densely populated England, the Government recognises the range of views on onshore wind. Our plans will prioritise putting local communities in control. We will not introduce wholesale changes to current planning regulations for onshore wind but will consult this year on developing local partnerships for a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for benefits, including lower energy bills. The consultation will consider how clear support can be demonstrated by local communities, local authorities and MPs’. The Broads Authority will keep informed of any changes.

18.2 Current approach

The current Local Plan does not allocate suitable areas for wind turbines. This approach is based on the evidence set out in the Renewable Energy Topic Paper (2016), which uses the Landscape Sensitivity Study as a basis; this study looked primarily at commercial scale turbines, rather than domestic microgeneration. The study concluded that most of the Broads is sensitive to wind turbines, with the least impact (low to moderate) being around the Whitlingham Broad area. The Topic Paper then investigated that area specifically, identifying that much of the area is constrained in terms of its being an historic/registered park and garden, local nature reserve and/or county wildlife site, as well as there being some areas of trees. The Topic Paper concluded that ‘whilst being rated as having a moderate sensitivity to single small or medium wind turbines, there will still be an impact on key characteristics and qualities of areas 10 and 11 (Whitlingham Broad area). Coupled with the constraints in the area, allocating areas 10 and 11 for wind turbines in the Local Plan is not appropriate’.

Question 20: Do you have any thoughts on our current approach to wind energy?

18.3 What do other Local Planning Authorities do?

The South Downs National Park Local Plan (2019) does not designate areas for wind turbines, but has Policy SD51 which is supportive of ‘small scale’ turbines (up to 100Kwh). The New Forest National Park Local Plan (2020) does not include wind turbines as it was concluded that wind turbines are not suitable, with the evidence base showing that windspeeds are generally low in the New Forest. The Exmoor National Park Local Plan (2017) identifies some areas (map 5.2 on page 114) for small scale wind turbines. The North York Moors National Park Local Plan (2020), policy ENV8 supports wind turbines in areas set out in a related SPD.

Question 21: Do you have any thoughts on wind turbines and the Broads?