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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 17:36 GMT
Plan 'will boost wind power'
Wind turbines
More wind turbines could be built across the country
More wind turbines could be built in England under government proposals published on Wednesday.

New guidance to local councils will make it much more difficult for applications to build wind farms to be rejected.

Currently about half of all applications are thrown out, but the new proposals are expected to require councils to take greater account of government targets for non-polluting energy.

But rural campaigners and environmentalists are divided about the benefits of the proposals.

The wind power industry hopes the proposals will see many more developments approved.

However the Campaign to Protect Rural England fears the move will lead to more wild landscapes being spoiled.

Similar guidance already exists in Scotland and has been very beneficial in promoting planning consents there
Marcus Trinick
Guidance author
The author of the existing planning guidance, Marcus Trinick, said the draft paper for local authorities marked "a quantum shift in the government's attitude to renewable energy provision in England and is urgently needed".

"Similar guidance already exists in Scotland and has been very beneficial in promoting planning consents there," he said.

The paper will say that wider environmental and economic benefits of all renewable energy projects, whatever their scale, should be a "significant consideration" in determining planning permissions.

It will also call for regional targets for renewable energy and the prohibition of buffer zones around National Parks and other designated sites.

Welsh inquiry

The National Assembly of Wales is expected to issue its own guidance in the New Year.

The government's proposals come a day after the Welsh Assembly opened an inquiry into a planned 30-turbine off-shore wind farm.

Energy firm United Utilities wants to build the 400-feet-high turbines at Scarweather Sands, off Porthcawl, in a 120m project to generate enough electricity for 82,000 homes.

The inquiry was told the turbines would meet 10% of the Welsh Assembly Government's renewable energy target.

But local opponents fear the turbines will blight the coastline and ruin the area's tourist trade.

About two weeks ago the government approved four new wind farms to be built off the coast of Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Essex.

The farms will generate enough electricity to power 230,000 houses, with each site made up of 30 turbines.

Wind farms could power up to one in six UK households under government plans to boost renewable energy.

Public comment will now be sought on the draft paper, with submissions to be made to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister by 3 January next year.

Off-shore windfarm inquiry opens
04 Nov 03  |  South East Wales
Wind farm plans considered
04 Nov 03  |  South Yorkshire
Tourism row over windfarm
26 Aug 03  |  South East Wales
Wind farm bases sunk into seabed
28 Oct 03  |  Norfolk

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