It’s Labour’s fault we have so many turbines, says NE Cambs MP
THE Government is being blamed for an increase in wind turbines because of outdated planning rules set by Labour, according to NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay.
Six Tory MPs including Mr Barclay joined Prime Minister David Cameron, Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP and Planning Minister Greg Clarke MP for a turbine policy meeting at Downing Street this week.
More than 100 MPs had signed a letter voicing concerns over the planned influx of onshore turbines and the generous subsidy provided to developers by the taxpayer.
Mr Barclay said: “There is considerable frustration in Government that the decisions approving onshore wind turbines currently being taken are under the old Labour planning rules.
“This means the current Government picks up the blame for rules set by Labour.
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“The Government has already tried to reform these rules but attempts to end the last Government’s regional spatial strategy – which includes targets for wind turbines – was thrown out by the courts.
“So we are stuck with Labour’s planning rules until the new planning regime is introduced, which is expected to be in a matter of months.”
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Under the new planning regime, the National Planning Policy Framework, district councils will designate the areas they believe are suitable for renewable energy.
But that will mean other areas of the district will have greater protection against development, according to Planning Minister Mr Clarke.
This could be beneficial for Fenland, because existing wind farms would be counted within the areas the council deem suitable.
Mr Barclay said: “My concern remains the large concentration of turbines in specific geographical areas, which has a disproportionate impact on communities like ours.
“Of course the devil is always in the detail on planning guidelines and we will need to see the outcome of the consultation, but we were told the intention is to give greater protection to communities who already have significant numbers of turbines.”
The Government has already announced a 10 per cent cut in subsidies given to turbine developers - but MPs insisted these should be further reduced.
There were also concerns raised about “serious risks of energy blackouts” with reliance on “unpleasant regimes for essential energy” such as nuclear power plants.
Mr Barclay said: “As someone who lives just a mile from the latest wind turbine development in the Fens, I am very aware of the strength of local feeling on this issue.”
He added: “Rural communities, as I set out in my maiden speech in Parliament, have been stripped of many assets which are concentrated in cities instead. Our rural Fen landscape is an asset we need to protect.”