Local communities will be given the power to block wind farms under new planning rules to be unveiled

Wind Farm

Wind Farm - Credit: Getty Images

FENLAND residents look set to be given the final say on whether wind farms should be allowed in their communities after the Government announced changes to planning laws.

FenRATS protest at the Boathouse in Wisbech.

FenRATS protest at the Boathouse in Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

The announcement has been tentatively welcomed by a Fen action group which has campaigned to stop six new turbines being built on the outskirts of Wisbech.

Consultation with local people will become compulsory before wind farm developers can formally apply for planning permission following the announcement.

Currently councils can be forced to accept wind farms under national planning guidance that states renewable energy schemes should be permitted.

The new ruling will mean people’s views will take priority over the need for green energy.

The news has left local group FenRATS “tentatively optimistic” about stopping the spread of wind farms that they say ruin the picturesque landscape and have dubious environmental benefits.

Michael Coleman, treasurer for anti wind farm campaigners, FenRATS, said: “Wind farms should never be forced on a community. We are not the People’s Republic of China, we are living in a democracy.

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“No-one has released independent figures on the efficiency of turbines, wind farm companies tell us they are great, but the figures are all very vague.”

He hoped the announcement would put a halt to plans for six turbines standing at 126m high - the height of 30 double decker buses - at Tydd St Giles.

The application was turned down by Fenland District Council and South Holland District Council and is in the hands of the planning inspector following an appeal by Wind Ventures.

MP Steve Barclay, who was among 100 MPS who wrote to prime minister David Cameron last year demanding action on wind farms, said it was great news for residents in rural communities like Fenland whose concerns about wind farms often lost out to the financial clout of big developers.

“These changes are a real boost for groups like FenRATs, who are still waiting to find out if their brilliant campaigning efforts have paid off. Today’s announcement will give greater weight to landscape and visual impact concerns, which can have a major affect upon rural areas.

“The new rules make clear that the concerns of local communities are a vital part of the planning process and ensure that they do not feel bullied into accepting proposals,” he said.