Initiative Aims to Improve UK Wind Permitting Process

Wind developers and local authorities throughout South West England are being urged to adopt a pioneering new model of best practice in public engagement around wind energy developments, as Regen SW launches its Wind Protocol.

The Wind Protocol has been designed to ensure that local communities near any proposed wind energy developments can be clear about how the developer will keep them involved with development plans, how they can ensure their concerns are addressed and on which issues the developer is willing to negotiate both within and outside the formal planning process. The concept of the wind protocol has arisen due to the increasing number of planning applications from wind energy developers across the South West in recent years. South West England has a target of up to 15 percent of its electricity being produced from renewable sources by 2010. Onshore wind is currently the most economically viable of the renewable technologies and is therefore the most significant in terms of ensuring the region hits its 2010 target. Signing up to the Protocol does not imply support for wind energy, but it allows local planning authorities and wind developers to clearly state their commitment to developing a robust process of engagement that is inclusive, transparent, accessible and accountable, and for the benefit of all involved. It also increases the chance that project plans that are given planning approval will work for local communities by providing guidance on how to negotiate profit sharing and local employment benefits from new schemes. “Onshore wind energy can be extremely controversial in certain areas as we know from experience,” said Councilor Peter Webb of North Dorset District Council. “We have signed up to the Protocol because we consider it will help a full and fair consideration of local as well as wider issues without introducing any bias. That is a legitimate objective of the planning system.” The Wind Protocol is the first of its kind in the UK, and has been endorsed by the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West branch of the Local Government Association, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the British Wind Energy Association. It has also been endorsed by individual local authorities such as Devon County Council and North Dorset District Council. Wind energy developers and local planning authorities throughout South West England are being invited to sign up in support of the approach outlined by the protocol. It is hoped that it will become a model of best practice across the UK and that other regions will also adopt their own protocols. Copies of the Protocol and supporting guidance are available from the Regen SW Web site.
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