Anthony Fyson – freelance writer for the UK Royal Town Planning Institute magazine “Planning” this week criticises The British Wind Energy Association for talking about the “falling approval rates” for wind energy projects.

Fyson says “wind power, properly harnessed, is vital to our future and most planners accept the fact. But they (local authorities) are unlikely to be persuaded to act differently on behalf of the frequently divided communities that they serve by the oft-repeated message that they and their system are not good enough.”

In his reaction to the statement by the British Wind Energy Association, Fyson does not seem to understand the sense of urgency relating to climate change. Let me give you an example of timescales for delivering a wind energy project in the UK using the first wind energy project I developed:

The Project:
The Hollies Wind Farm, Lincolnshire, England
2x 1.3 MW turbines (yes just 2 x 1.3MW turbines)
Site identified – year 2000
Legal documentation agreed with the landowner – 2001
Surveys and environmental report preparation – 2002
Planning application submitted – 2003
Planning permission considered by local planning authority – 2003-2005
Planning consent granted on appeal – 2005
Grid connection agreement completed – 2005/2006
Contract with turbine manufacturer placed – 2006
Constructions starts – 2007
Generation starts – 2007

This project has taken over 7 years to develop with 2.5 years in the planning system. Planning applications should take 16 weeks to decide. This is not an unusual story and many parts of the chain clearly need speeding up – including the planning system. It is not however the individual planning officers who are the problem or the principle of the system, but the lack of resource the government is putting into the (local) planning system together with nimby decisions local politicians are making which are the key factors resulting in the protraction of this part of the process.

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