How many wind turbines?

Q: How many wind turbines does it take to make up a wind farm?

A: One, apparently.

On 18 June 2015 the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, issued a Written Ministerial Statement entitled ‘Local Planning’.

The Minister said ‘I am today setting out new considerations to be applied to proposed wind energy development so that local people have the final say on wind farm applications, fulfilling the commitment made in the Conservative election manifesto.’ He continued ‘When determining planning applications for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines, local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if…..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.’ (The Blog’s emphasis).

But how can one wind turbine reasonably be described as a wind farm? If it is accepted that ‘a reasonable man’ would not describe one wind turbine as a wind farm, which is the subject matter of the new considerations, this leads to the conclusion that one wind turbine ought not to be subject to the requirement to prove community backing. Which leads us on to ….. an off-grid cottage in East Sussex where an inspector rejected a proposal for (actually two) domestic wind turbines (still not what the term ‘wind farm’ would bring to mind) (DCS Number 400-017-880).

The inspector noted that, in terms of the Written Ministerial Statement, there was a difference between the parish council and some local residents who supported the proposal, and the planning committee councillors and other local residents living in the immediate vicinity who objected to the proposal. There did not appear to be a clear consensus, she found. Accordingly, she concluded that it could not be said that the proposal had the backing of the affected local community. She considered, in any event, that the turbines would appear highly prominent upon a ridge and would be intrusive in the rural landscape. Notwithstanding the effect on the rural landscape, it seems highly unlikely that a domestic turbine would ever get the unanimous support of neighbours. Therefore, the WMS aimed at wind farms appears to be, perhaps unintentionally, putting the brakes on the generation of renewable energy from domestic turbines.

Perhaps the current minister would be so kind as to clear this matter up?

Wind farms are discussed at section 26.511 of DCP Online and householder microgeneration equipment at section 12.7.