Allerdale Borough Council has now started the consultation on Part 2 of the Local Plan. This part of the plan addresses which sites will be designated for development or specific uses and what type of development or use can take place.
In Part 1 of the Local Plan, it was concluded that it would not be fair on local residents to specify areas that could be used for wind energy development, a decision that was widely welcomed. Since the Plan was approved, there has been a written Ministerial Statement on wind energy which has now been included in National Planning Guidance. Part of the statement relates to the identification of suitable areas for wind energy development and it appears that, if Part 2 of the plan is to be approved, there is little choice other than to designate some areas for development.
Allerdale’s Planning Policy Officers have concluded that the fairest way to do this is to designate the whole of the Borough, except the parts of the National Park that are within Allerdale, as suitable. There would also be restrictions on the type of development that could take place in the Solway Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In many ways this does not really alter the current situation since, in the absence of specific designated areas within the Borough, the option is already there for developers to apply anywhere in Allerdale. Planning Policy Officers have stressed that the safeguards introduced in Part 1 of the Plan would absolutely still apply to any application that might be lodged, including the recommended 800m separation distance between wind turbines over 25m in height and residential properties.
In view of the fact that the Council apparently has no choice but to comply with the Planning Guidance, the approach that has been taken – i.e. to designate the whole of the Borough with the exception of the National Park – does appear to be the best option because it is in fact the only option that does not discriminate against individual communities and properties.
The consultation is a huge document because of the large number of maps it contains but the following link will take you to a page which explains how it is laid out. This does make it somewhat easier to navigate:
http://www.allerdale.gov.uk/ planning-and-buildings/ planning/planning-policy/site- allocations/preferred-options- consultation.aspx
All of the documents which are part of the consultation, including the Wind Energy Technical Document, can be accessed from the same page. There are also instructions on how to respond to the consultation and a list drop-in sessions when planning officers will be available to answer questions. The consultation documents can also be viewed in hard copy at various locations.
Should you wish to make a comment on wind energy, or indeed on any other aspect of the draft plan, the consultation period will remain open until Friday 24th March.