New guidance note for community energy groups

How to identify suitable areas for onshore wind development in your neighbourhood plan

11 May 2016

CSE has produced a 32-page guidance note designed to help community groups identify suitable areas for onshore wind development in their Neighbourhood Plan.

This is in response to a change in the planning regime that came into effect in June 2015 which gives local people the final say on planning applications for wind turbines. The new national guidance advises that in order for onshore wind proposals to get planning permission:

  1. The development site must be in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan.
  2. Following consultation it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

Dan Stone who wrote the guidance for community energy groups said "The need for sites to be allocated in local or neighbourhood plans adds a layer of complexity and potential cost to the development of community wind power projects. And because this is a relatively recent policy change there is little experience to draw upon.

"We hope that this guidance note can fill the gap and help community energy groups fulfill their ambitions and contribute to the UK's clean energy future."

CSE's guidance sets out a process that neighbourhood planning groups could follow to narrow down ‘suitable’ areas and the type of supporting evidence needed to support their policies, accompanied by suggestions on how they might approach community involvement and a suggested template for policy wording.

"Given the need for a wind policy to pass the neighbourhood plan referendum, as well as the necessity to show community backing during planning applications for onshore wind proposals, demonstrating community support is now all important," added Dan. "Therefore our guidance stresses the need to get a mandate from the community to explore the principle of hosting wind turbines, and explores how groups might plan and approach community involvement work."

We’ve also explored the pros and cons of different ownership models, for example pursuing a wholly community owned project (where the community reaps all the benefits, but also carries all the risks) or entering into a joint venture with commercial wind farm developers.

Download the guidance note How to identify suitable areas for onshore wind development in your neighbourhood plan.

Download the supplement 'The numbers game' that illustrates the point that while smaller wind turbines obviously have less visual impact, taller ones with longer blades can supply power to many more homes.

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