Localism Bill: gamechanger for the renewable energy sector

  • The most radical overhaul of local planning rules in the last 60 years
  • Industry to work with Government on ensuring that proposals help meet renewables targets

London, UK, 12/13/2010: The Localism Bill, published today, is set to usher the most radical overhaul of local planning in the last 60 years, stated RenewableUK, the country’s leading renewable energy trade association. Many of the Bill’s proposals could have a profound impact on renewable energy projects, while others could have a bearing on project economics and overall renewable energy targets.

With nearly 270 wind farms in planning onshore, totalling over 7 gigawatts (sufficient to power 4 million homes per annum), the Association has identified proposals on local referendums, predetermination, neighbourhood planning, pre application consultations, abolition of regional spatial strategies and the community infrastructure levy as being of particular importance.

Charles Anglin, RenewableUK’s Director of Communications, said: “There is no doubt that this Bill, once it becomes law, will dramatically alter the rules for developing renewable energy projects, and the industry will have to follow suit. We could be looking at a radically different planning process, with councillors allowed or even encouraged to campaign ahead of the decision, and the result in some cases being made by referendum. We will need to consult with communities ahead of logging an application and make sure that the economic and community benefits are clear.”

RenewableUK is waiting for clarity on the plans to involve neighbourhoods in the decision making, and details on how planning at neighbourhood level will integrate with council planning procedures.  It has also stated that allowing councillors to campaign on planning issues must be balanced with the need to get a fair hearing. On proposals such as the abolition of regional spatial strategies the Association has stated that it is looking forward to engaging with Government to make sure that the localism agenda helps in reaching the UK’s renewable energy targets.

“RenewableUK is already working on a set of proposals to ensure that people at the local level see a clear benefit from hosting renewable energy projects. We are looking forward to working with the Government to ensure that renewable energy projects are developed in a responsible, democratic and clearly beneficial way,” concluded Anglin.

RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 650 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK. Wind has been the world's fastest-growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind energy and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions to prevent climate change. For more information see www.renewable-uk.com .

For details of the Localism Bill see here http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/1794971

On the key points in the Localism Bill RenewableUK has stated:

- local referendums: should have an important role to play, but decisions need to be made on the basis of qualified professional advice

- predetermination: councillors should be free to fulfil their democratic role as local representatives, but there has to be a mechanism ensuring there is no conflict of interest, and individual application must be judged on their own merit

- neighbourhood planning: exciting innovation but questions remain on how neighbourhoods will be defined, what process and funding will be used to adopt the plans and how they will be ratified

- pre-application consultations: the industry strongly supports the plans and already has an excellent track record in engaging with communities at the pre-planning stage

- abolition of regional spatial strategies: the industry accepts the thrust of the localist agenda and is already working with Government to make sure that it helps deliver projects on the ground; we will be looking to propose a mechanism to enable joint working on key infrastructure projects between local councils 

- the community infrastructure levy: we support measures to retain a proportion of these funds locally and will be looking to extend this principle to the localisation of business rates, when the plans are extended to level of the local neighbourhood

Source: RenewableUK

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