57 per cent of wind farm applications are turned down

Top-down intervention in local renewable projects is hurting public support for them


In a new report, The Fabian Society describes how investors still do not feel safe investing in renewables because of a lack of community consent.

‘Transition By Consent’ emphasises that only by winning support from local communities can sustainable green energy solutions be delivered to the UK in the long term.

It finds that, although most of the public are supportive of renewable alternatives in theory, development plans are still failing to win consent. New analysis shows that 57 per cent of wind farm applications are being rejected, up from 37 per cent in 2013 and 21 per cent in 2008.

The report identifies a disconnect between national support for renewable energy projects and local consent for developments, which it calls the ‘Not In My Back Yard’ phenomenon.

The report adds that the communications secretary is making the market even more unpredictable with top-down interventions:

“Pickles has made a political intervention from Whitehall on 50 wind farm projects including pulling in every single ‘larger project’ of two turbines or more that has gone to appeal.

This intervention implies that the government is not taking  the threat to renewable energy provision very seriously.”

Top down planning only works in the short term, the study finds, as opposition grows up in communities who feel they have been shut out of the planning process.

Looking at the developers who have had success, the report concludes that it is crucial to include the community as a partner in project design, and also to make the project in question more than just an energy proposition. Making a project benefit the community in other ways – new jobs or new Broadband proposals, for example – can increase public support for it.

The Fabian Society gives the example of the Olveston wind farm in Thornbury, where a ‘great deal of money’ was spent but the project ultimately failed to take off because it did not have the support of the local community.

Tidal Lagoon in Swansea Bay, however, shaped its project with the community’s participation. It found high levels of concern about local employment opportunities, and so designed a project with a variety of promising career paths in such fields as construction, tourism and mariculture. The report states that it is important to tailor each project to local needs in this way.

As far as government responsibility goes, it is time for ministers to stop making top down decisions, and instead help developers to transition to renewables by popular consent.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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13 Responses to “57 per cent of wind farm applications are turned down”

  1. swat

    Its these Tory dominated planning Committees that are turning down qite reasonable applications.

  2. Dave Stewart

    It’s telling how communities are about to shut down windfarms apparently fairly easily but when it comes to saying no to fraking the government try to change the law so they don’t need to even ask permission to drill under your house. The Tories have no interest in the environment and are clearly only interested in business as usual regardless of the consequences for future generations.

  3. ForeignRedTory

    I find myself unable to agree with the positions taken here.

    Transition is a MUST, and if anything, I would expect Central Government to make it very clear that failure to support Transtition will not be tolerated. There may be a relatively brief list of valid reasons to opopose, such as projects that will cost more energy than that they save, but that is about it.

    CONSENT for Transition? Does Climate Change wait for consent?

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, those evil people with different views, treason. Opposition must not be tolerated. It’s special, like all the other times someone does not agree with your exact views.

  5. Guest

    The reality is that telling people their energy bills must double and more over the next half a decade for part-time power in return is always going to create at least some hostility.

    Rather than building nuclear power plants, where the costs would go to energy generation and not company profits to a far greater degree.

  6. steroflex

    Have you looked at the figures?
    Allow me to state the obvious: Wind farms need the right kind of wind. Otherwise they provide NO electricity at all. That means we fall back on nuclear (a bit) and coal (not very green) until both are shut down in the near future. Then what?
    Solar energy is lovely here in Australia it really works. But England is not on the Equator and the sun does not shine at night.
    There are no huge batteries to store electricity – just redistribution of generated stuff as it is generated.
    Why does a person like me have to tell you that? Why?

  7. steroflex

    Working class people are proud of their work. They are proud to be providing for the country. That is Socialism.
    Fracking does precisely that.
    But – hey – real Socialism today seems to mean higher wages, more dole, more benefits and more allowances and to hell with the consequences.
    I do not believe the State is the Great Provider and I do not believe in Father Christmas either. My problem with the Tories is that they are simply Socialists. Who can tell the difference?

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah right, boosting corporate profits by replacing offshore gas with onshore, cutting the tax take, is to you “socialism”, as you deny society.

    I’m sure you don’t believe in state pensions, NHS or JSA either. Or council rubbish collectors, or…

  9. ForeignRedTory

    What else do you call a failure to subordinate your personal interests to the interests of the Human race, eh?

    Individualism is for Thatcherists. And such.

  10. steroflex

    ….. or Leon Wolfeson

  11. Guest

    Ah yes, you don’t believe Jews like me have a right to exist, what a surprise.

  12. Guest

    So you’re for mandatory sterilisation of the majority, right? Same logic.

    No, you’re simply a totalitarian who invokes his views as the “Human Race”.

    I don’t really care what you try and justify with it, the cause’s worth really has nothing to do with it, the issue here is your so-called logic.

  13. TonywilliamI

    As an island nation with two high waters and two low waters every day, a massive volume of sea water moving up and down our coast: Why isn’t more research money being used to find a solution to renewable energy that would be available everyday of the year by harnessing this free resource.

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