THE government’s planning inspector has told Wiltshire Council to take its plans for wind farms out to public consultation again.
The consultation will be watched closely by renewable energy developer REG Windpower, who are proposing to install a wind farm near West Ashton, and local campaigners, who are against the development.
Wiltshire Council’s Core Strategy sets out the county’s plans and policies up to 2026, and as part of this puts forward an approach towards standalone renewable energy installations. A last minute amendment to Wiltshire’s Core Strategy, proposed by the Conservatives and approved at a meeting of Wiltshire Council in June, set out minimum separation distances for wind turbines from residential premises.
The amendment said that if the height of a wind turbine generator is greater than 100m, but does not exceed 150m, the minimum distance requirement is 2,000m – about a mile and a quarter.
Jon Hubbard, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wiltshire Council said, “It’s exactly as we predicted would be the case. Changes at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour are not acceptable, and we’re delighted that the planning inspector has made that clear.
“What the inspector has said is that you can’t chuck this in at the last minute, it has to be consulted on like everything else in the Core Strategy.”
A statement from Wiltshire Council says, “The Wiltshire Core Strategy has been drawn up over the last three years through consultation with local people, businesses and organisations. It plans for Wiltshire’s communities to be strong and sustainable by ensuring jobs, services and homes are developed in a balanced and managed way. The last formal consultation on the strategy resulted in representations from more than 430 different organisations and individuals. Collectively, more than 1,700 separate comments were made on different parts of the plan.
“In response to comments received, a number of changes to the draft core strategy were proposed and agreed at June’s full council meeting.
“These changes include updating the strategy to improve consistency with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and a motion which gives interim guidance on how far wind turbines should be from homes.
“As expected, the inspector has now asked the council to consult on these changes. The council is in discussion with the inspector as to how it will carry out this consultation. This action was suggested to the inspector by the council and will provide the opportunity for further comments to be submitted, which will then be considered by the inspector as part of the ongoing Examination in Public into the soundness of the Core Strategy. The council will publicise the details of the consultation when agreed by the inspector.
“Once the feedback has been gathered, the Wiltshire Core Strategy will be examined in public at a date and venue to be confirmed by the inspectorate in due course.”
REG Windpower is proposing to install three wind turbines of up to 130m in height at Grange Farm Wind Farm, near West Ashton. A group, Stop Grange Farm Wind Farm, was formed earlier this year to campaign against the development.