Most recent news:
High Court rejects wind farm separation distances
April 16th 2013
The High Court has overturned Milton Keynes Borough Council's attempt to block large wind farms in its local development plan. This decision, by Judge John Howells QC, could have significant implications for Wiltshire Council's own attempts to ban wind farm development.
Milton Keynes Borough Council had voted to impose 1.2km separation distances between turbines and residential housing. In this important case Judge Howells ruled that the attempt to impose a 'buffer zone' for new wind farm projects was unlawful. He concluded that there was 'no objective justification' for arbitrary separation distances for new turbines and that the policy was 'plainly in conflict' with established planning guidance.
ffinlo Costain, chairman of Pewsey Environmental Action Team and member of the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance campaign group, said, 'National guidance plainly indicates that local authorities should not have anti-wind farm policies based on minimum separation distances. There's no evidence to support wind turbine buffer zones; planning policy should be open-minded and un-biased, and wind farm applications should be judged on a case-by-case basis in line with national policy. '
Last June, with no prior consultation, Wiltshire Council voted through an amendment to Policy 42 of its Core Strategy Submission Document that aimed to prevent wind turbines from being built anywhere in Wiltshire. The amendment, inserted by some councillors, aimed to stop wind farms being built by stipulating minimum separation distances between homes and wind turbines, ostensibly on health and safety grounds. This caused a public outcry when it was first passed by the Council in June.
Wiltshire Council's core strategy will be subject to public inquiry by a planning inspector from May 7th. Core Policy 42, which includes the council's attempts to impose arbitrary separation distances on wind farms, will be considered on May 16th.
Rowena Quantrill, Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon representative on the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance, 'Wind farm development is critical if Wiltshire is to play an active role in meeting national decarbonisation targets. Wind farms reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and will help reduce electricity prices in the near future. We are very pleased with the Milton Keynes ruling and believe this bodes well for the Planning Inspector's hearing on this key issue for Wiltshire.'
Map of the impact of this policy
To view the map of Wiltshire showing the impact of the new amendment on wind farm development in Wiltshire - Click here
March 2013 - WCEA writes to all Wiltshire Councillors
The WCEA has written to all Wiltshire Councillors to ensure they have accurate information about wind energy, and the potential impact of Core Policy 42.
The pack included, a rebuttal of ‘evidence’ presented to some members of Wiltshire Council by the Stop Grange Farm Action Group, a map which demonstrates unequivocally that the amended policy would effectively end all prospects of wind-farm development in the county, FAQs about wind energy, and a summary table of responses received to the Policy 42 Consultation.
To read the letter - Click here
Feb 2013 news update - Inspector's Examination of the Wiltshire Core Strategy
The Programme Officer for the Examination of the Wiltshire Core Strategy has scheduled a Pre Hearing Meeting, which is to be held on Thursday 28th February 2013 at 1.30pm within the Civic Centre, Trowbridge. Representors are welcome to attend.
The Pre Hearing Meeting is purely procedural, designed to provide information on the process moving forward and explain how the Examination will be organised and conducted. Detailed elements of the Core Strategy or the merit of individual representations will not be discussed at this meeting.
It's anticipated that the Hearing Sessions will commence on Tuesday 7th of May 2013 at the same venue and could last for approximately six weeks. A programme for the Hearing Sessions together with the Inspector's issues to be covered will follow in due course.
Greenpeace undercover investigation 'revealed a militant group of Conservative MPs trying to strangle investment in clean, renewable energy.' To find out more and watch a short video - Click here
Wiltshire shows strong support for wind power
(To read this release as a formatted pdf - Click here)
Consultation on controversial Core Strategy policy amendment demonstrates widespread support for fair planning policy for wind farms from across Wiltshire and the UK.
Wiltshire Council’s 6-week public consultation on a controversial last-minute amendment to its Core Strategy has ended, demonstrating substantial support both in Wiltshire and further afield for fairer planning policy for wind farms.
Over 1,000 people have responded to Wiltshire Council’s retrospective consultation on an amendment to Core Strategy Policy 42, “standalone renewable energy installations”. By imposing a 3km exclusion zone around housing, the policy amendment, inserted at the last minute, would effectively block all wind farm development in the county, according to analysis from Renewable UK (see map attached).
Over 500 people responded to the consultation saying they thought separation distances were unfair and not based on sound evidence. Unlike respondents who supported Wiltshire Council’s amendment, those in favour of clean energy were spread across the length and breadth of Wiltshire – with the largest numbers of individual responses coming from Bradford-on-Avon, Marlborough, Salisbury, Calne, Pewsey, Chippenham and Corsham.
Local community groups also responded collectively to the consultation. Group comments in support of renewable energy represented thousands of local people. These included submissions from the Wiltshire Federation of WIs and the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance, which comprises some 37 different community groups and businesses.
Sophy Fearnley-Whittingstall, campaign coordinator for the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance, said:
“People and community groups across Wiltshire are sending a clear message to the Council that imposing exclusion zones would be unfair and not justified by the evidence. Planning policy should be open-minded and un-biased, and wind farm applications should be judged on a case-by-case basis in line with national policy.
“Communities in Wiltshire deserve to benefit from the economic advantages of having wind farms nearby.”
Responses which favoured separation distances were largely skewed to the towns of Trowbridge and Westbury, close to the county’s only proposed wind farm at West Ashton, which has yet to be submitted for consultation or planning. Interestingly, many of these anti- wind power comments are based on inaccurate information. Even though these worries are largely unfounded, the concern is genuine. The wind industry and Wiltshire Council should work together to better inform the public. Wind power continues to be one of the safest ways to generate electricity in the world.
Duncan Hames, MP, (Chippenham) said in his consultation response: “There is no health and safety justification for distances anything like as great as those in this policy.”
He added: “It is a negative strategy, designed in effect to ban certain forms of renewable energy generation from the county… There is therefore no compelling reason for such draconian measures as the amended Policy 42 when guidance and legislation is already in place to assess fairly the likely impacts of potential wind developments on suitable sites.”
The consultation also attracted attention from across the UK from individuals and groups concerned that if the amendment was to stand, it would set a dangerous planning policy precedent which might be followed by other councils.
Outside Wiltshire, those in favour of fair planning policy for wind farms outnumbered supporters of separation distances by almost two to one, in line with the latest national surveys which show that a large majority of the British public are in favour of onshore wind. They included organisations such as the Campaign against Climate Change, the RSPB and Forum for the Future.
The RSPB says: “Climate change poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife, and the RSPB recognises the essential role of renewable energy in addressing this problem.
“We support local solutions that enable individuals and communities to generate their own power close to their homes and businesses. But we will also need large-scale deployment of renewables to meet our ambitious climate and renewables targets.”
The responses from the consultation on the Core Strategy amendment will be passed on to the Planning Inspector, who is expected to hold a hearing early in 2013.
Media queries: please contact Sophy Fearnley-Whittingstall, Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance, 07979 368238 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Consultation response from the RSPB
This excellent response to Wiltshire Council's amendment has been submitted by the RSPB. It includes maps that show how this amendment will end wind farm development in Wiltshire.
'The RSPB is concerned that the current text of Core Policy 42 renders the Core Strategy unsound.
'The National Planning Policy Framework requires Local Authorities to have a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable sources and design their policies to maximise such developments while ensuring that any adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily (paragraph 97). It appears that the Council's policy is intended to address such impacts, but we are concerned about its practical implications.
'We note that a 3km exclusion zone will block practically all windfarm development in Wiltshire (map produced by Renewable UK ). Given that exclusion zones for hazardous (including explosive substances) usually involve significantly smaller distances than the 3km zone proposed here we are concerned that the distance chosen is excessive. We consider that the Council should apply the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Planning Advice for Developments near Hazardous Installations (PADHI) methodology. To this end, we recommend that the Council consults the HSE as a matter of urgency to get clear advice from it on the appropriate separation distances for wind turbines on health and safety grounds. If the Council has already received such advice from the HSE we recommend its publication as it is clearly an important part of the plan's evidence base. Any separation that exceeds the HSE's advice will not be justified unless the Council can provide clear evidence suggesting that the Council can provide clear evidence suggesting that the HSE's approach is wrong.
'We also note the House of Commons Science and Environment Section briefing note entitled Wind Farms - Distance from Housing (SN/SC/5221) published in July 2012 states that "the Government has rejected the idea of a separation distance for England." If the Government is not prepared to support such an approach then it is all the more important that the approach adopted by the Council, which is clearly at variance with the Government's, is justified by robust evidence. However, as noted above, we are not aware of any evidence considered by the Council to justify its approach.
'We are also concerned that the analysis of the changes to Core Policy 42 in the revised Sustainability Appraisal fails to adequately identify the likely cuts to the power generated from wind power in Wiltshire. The South West Renewable Energy Resource Assessment (November 2010) estimated that Wiltshire could accommodate 524 large scale turbines with a total capacity of 1334MW, generating 3009 GWh/year (11% of the County's electricity demand) . This figure could have been re-evaluated or, at the least, it would have been possible to calculate the maximum impact of the policy (almost no wind-generated power in Wiltshire). The fact that the revised Sustainability Appraisal fails to go beyond the statement "this could reduce Wiltshire's ability to generate energy from non-renewable sources" (paragraph 5.44.14) is a matter of concern as it does not highlight the potential severity of the operation of Core Policy 42.
'Unless the Council can provide clear evidence that supports the various exclusion zones proposed we consider that the amendment to Core Policy 42 renders the Core Strategy unsound. We recommend the deletion of the exclusion zone element of the policy.
 Map produced by Renewable UK
DECC news blog
9th October 2012
The viability of wind
The Department of Energy and Climate Change's Chair of the Office for Renewable Energy Deployment has blogged on the viability of wind energy. He tackles the important issue of shadow capacity.
To read the blog - Click here
News release from the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance
Monday 24th September 2012
Wiltshire Council launches public consultation on wind farm planning issue
Wiltshire Council has launched a public consultation on a controversial last-minute amendment to its Core Strategy which, if adopted, would effectively cut off a major route for developing renewable energy in Wiltshire. The amendment, inserted by some councillors, aims to stop wind farms being built by stipulating minimum separation distances between homes and wind turbines, ostensibly on health and safety grounds. This caused a public outcry when it was first passed by the Council in June.
A group of residents, businesses, and community groups from Malmesbury to Salisbury and Bradford-on Avon to Pewsey have formed the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance to campaign against the amendment and ensure that fair planning rules for renewable developments prevail.
Rowena Quantrill, a founder member of the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance and a member of Climate Friendly Bradford-on Avon, said:
“Wiltshire Council itself has recognised wind farms and biomass as the two key renewable energy opportunities for Wiltshire – so to stop all wind farm development at a stroke would be entirely counterproductive. Supporters of wind farms tend to be the silent majority – so I’d urge people to speak up and comment on this consultation to have their voices heard. Renewables can help Wiltshire become more energy independent and offer great opportunities for communities to benefit too.”
A map of Wiltshire taking into account the new residential buffer zones and other environmental and landscape designations shows definitively that if the amendment is left to stand, there would be no suitable places for wind development left in the county, which is the UK’s 13th largest by land area.
Wiltshire Councillor for Chippenham, Chris Caswill, said: “It’s good news that Wiltshire Council is now consulting the public about this badly written policy amendment, which should never have been passed in the first place. There is already an established, independent, evidence-based process for handling wind-farm planning applications, but these proposals replace it with fiction and prejudice."
The consultation has also caught the attention of national organisations and politicians.
Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said, “It’s right that Wiltshire residents are consulted about this amendment to planning policy – wind turbines are not dangerous and there’s no safety reason to stop them being built within three kilometres of any home.
“We know that 85 per cent of the public want more of their electricity to come from UK wind, sun and water, and all councils – including Wiltshire – play a crucial role in enabling that to happen.
“Instead of sneaking in last-minute caveats that will stop clean energy in its tracks, Wiltshire Council should be blazing a trail with its local plan – cutting emissions and creating hundreds of jobs.”
Last Friday Mr Atkins visited Westmill Wind and Solar Farm near Swindon to see first-hand how renewables projects can benefit local communities. Westmill Wind Farm was the first community-owned wind farm to be built in the South of England, however a project like this would be prevented from going ahead a few miles down the road in Wiltshire if the amendment to the Core Strategy is allowed to stand.
Andy Atkins added: “Westmill wind and solar co-op is a great example how communities can benefit directly from clean British energy.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has also pledged her support for the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance. She said, “I’m pleased that Wiltshire Council has decided to consult the public about this controversial policy amendment. If it is allowed to become policy there is a danger that a new precedent will become established amongst local planners which could have serious implications for the UK’s ability to achieve its renewable energy targets.”
Wiltshire Council’s six-week consultation is due to end on 1st November 2012. It covers some 180 minor amendments to the Core Strategy, but the wind farm planning issue is likely to provoke the biggest response. People who wish to comment on the consultation can visit www.wiltshirecea.org.uk for more information.
General media enquiries:
Sophy Fearnley-Whittingstall, WCEA, 07979 368238 or email@example.com
Rowena Quantrill, WCEA: 01225 866245 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Caswill, Wiltshire Councillor for Chippenham: 01249 822088 or email@example.com
Photo available - Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth, at Westmill Wind and Solar Farm, please email: Kate.Turner@goodenergy.co.uk
Notes to Editors:
* To view the Wiltshire Core Strategy consultation - Click here
* To view the map of Wiltshire showing the impact of the new amendment on wind farm development in Wiltshire - Click here
Wiltshire Council told: go back and consult
the public on wind farm policy
Tuesday 21st August 2012
A planning inspector has told Wiltshire Council to go back and consult the public on a controversial amendment to the Core Strategy that will govern future planning and development in the county.
On June 26th Wiltshire Council agreed its new Core Strategy. At the last minute, an amendment was proposed and accepted which aimed to create minimum separation distances between homes and wind farms. The scale of these separation distances would effectively end prospects of wind farm development in Wiltshire.
Sophy Fearnley-Whittingstall, Head of Campaign Partnerships at Chippenham-based renewable electricity supplier Good Energy, said, 'Planning policy should be open-minded and un-biased, yet this amendment, rushed through at the eleventh hour, seeks to place prejudice against one form of development at the heart of our planning system.'
The newly formed Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance , a group of local residents, businesses, and community groups from Pewsey to Bradford on Avon, wrote to the planning inspector, questioning the scientific basis of the amendment and the lack of public consultation. The planning inspector’s office replied that it has told Wiltshire Council that the public should be consulted on the proposed change.
Ms. Fearnley-Whittingstall said, 'The Alliance has been formed to show that there is wide-spread opposition to this amendment, which isn't just anti-wind, but anti-fairness. It is wrong to scrap an independent and evidence-based planning system and replace it with unscientific bias. All development should be subject to the same rules. Wind farms, as other developments, should be subject to fair planning scrutiny, considered on a case-by-case basis, and sited only where appropriate.'
In an independent assessment for Wiltshire Council  wind farms and biomass have been recognised as the key renewable energy opportunities for Wiltshire. They can also help Wiltshire become more energy independent and offer opportunities for communities to benefit. If, following consultation, this amendment becomes policy then Wiltshire's ability to reduce carbon emissions will be severely limited. The National Planning Policy Framework, which the Core Strategy is required to comply with, requires that councils 'design their policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed'.
The justification for this amendment was public safety. However there has not been a single incident, anywhere in the world, where a member of the public has been seriously injured by the normal operation of a wind turbine.
Rowena Quantrill is a member of the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance and the energy group of Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon. She said, 'It is particularly concerning that the Council was prepared to make such a significant change without public consultation.
'I hope other groups and individuals will support the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance and help show that Wiltshire people want a planning system that is fair for everyone. People can find out more about how to register their objections to this policy on our website: www.wiltshirecea.org.uk.'
Notes for editors:
1. For supporters of the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance - Click here
2. The Wiltshire Sustainable Energy Study, published in January 2011, was been prepared by consultants Camco for Wiltshire Council - Click here
3. To contact us - Click here
More information - Click here
Media contact info - Click here
Event: Wind Power - Myths & Truths
Public lectures to help to dispel myths and answer questions about wind power in a friendly, open atmosphere.
* Calne Environment Network.
Weds Feb 20, 7.30pm.
At the Community Hub, High St, Calne.
(Donation of £1 please to CEN, which includes refreshments.)
* Marlborough Green Drinks.
Tuesday, 19th April, 8pm.
The Green Dragon, Marlborough High Street.
(If you would like to host a talk about wind energy in your area, please contact ffinlo Costain.)
Related news articles:
John Hayes Is Wrong About Wind Farms - Click here
Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins appeared on Friday 21st September. To hear what he had to say - Click here - and fast-forward to about 1 hour 9 mins.
Wiltshire Gazette and Herald
Vote expected to halt Wiltshire's wind turbines - Click here
This is Wiltshire
Wiltshire Council told to rethink wind farm policy - Click here
Wiltshire Council told to review new wind farm policy - Click here
Wiltshire council votes for tough new planning restrictions for windfarms - Click here
Wind power study says opponents' claims are unfounded - Click here
Wiltshire latest council to declare war on wind farms - Click here
The Carbon Brief
Wiltshire’s wind regulation: blowing evidence-based policymaking out of the window - Click here
Good Energy Blog
Campaigning for a fairer planning policy for renewables in Wiltshire - Click here