Joint Press Release from FELLS and FORCE (Friends of Eden, Lakeland & Lunesdale Scenery and Friends of Rural Cumbria’s Environment)
FELLS and FORCE urge Councils throughout Cumbria and the North West to consider adopting reasonable separation distances between single turbines or wind farms and people’s homes, as they finalise their Local Plans and Local Development Frameworks. A recent High Court ruling has made this action both possible and legal.
Milton Keynes Borough Council included such distances in their emerging Wind Turbine Supplementary Planning Document but was challenged in the High Court by two wind farm companies (see note 1). The judgment, issued on April 15th 2013, confirmed that local authorities can set exclusion zones to protect local people from inappropriate development (see note 2).
The judge ruled in favour of the wind companies in just one of the four challenges and this ruling was only based on a technicality (see note 3): the judgment as a whole provides significant encouragement for other local authorities to define separation distances between turbines and dwellings which would be considered acceptable as long as all other environmental impacts are satisfactorily addressed.
As the various local authorities in Cumbria and the North West move towards the preparation of their Local Plans or Local Development Frameworks, FELLS and FORCE urge them to specify an acceptable distance between people’s houses and wind farms (or large single turbines).
FELLS has worked closely with politicians to get a ‘Separation Distances Bill’ adopted by Parliament (See Note 4). This judgment shows that their efforts were well founded.
Dr Mike Hall (President of FELLS) said, ‘To avoid public anger and disenchantment, it is crucial that there are reasonable safeguards to protect the amenity of wind turbine neighbours. This judgment shows that the law in fact supports Local Authorities that wish to set minimum separation distances, although it also shows that these must be designed and worded carefully.’
Marion Fitzgerald (Chairman of FORCE) said; ‘this is a critical judgment for areas in north and west Cumbria where wind farm and turbine applications are a already seriously threatening peoples well being, but could also have far-reaching national repercussions’.
Notes for Editors
1. The companies who brought the action were RWE Npower Renewables and Ecotricity (Next Generation) Limited 2. The full judgment can be read at; http://www.ref.org.uk/press-releases/288-high-court-ruling-supports-wind-turbine-exclusion-distances 3. Milton Keynes already had a 2002 document that specified a separation of 350 metres. The judge ruled, therefore, that their recent SPD (which specified separation distances that increased with the height of the turbines) was in conflict with the 2002 Planning document and should be revoked. 4. Lord Reay introduced such a Bill [Wind Turbines (Minimum Distances from Residential Premises) Bill] which reached the Committee Stage in the House of Lords in 2012 but has not been taken further due to ill health.