Agenda item

Wind Turbine Developments and Separation Distances

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Hanson)


Report of the Chief Officer (Regeneration and Planning


(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Hanson)


Cabinet received a report from the Chief Officer (Regeneration & Planning) to enable Cabinet to consider the petition submitted to Annual Council asking that the City Council as Local Planning Authority introduce a revised Development Management policy relating to wind turbines which introduced a minimum safeguarding distance between turbines and dwellings.


The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:


Option 1 -   Not to introduce an amended policy.  This option might still be challenged by groups opposing wind turbine development through the examination of the Development Management Development Plan Document, but was more likely to be found as a favourable approach by the Secretary of State.  The approach would be unpopular with some local communities including some Parish Councils as the view might be taken that the Council had declined to tighten the constraints imposed on wind farm developments.  This option would however be expected to receive support from the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspectorate, and avoid costs awards against the Council at appeal if it ignored national policy guidance.


Option 2 - To undertake a revision to the existing Development Management policy, as advocated by the petitioners, (and not by officers) to aim to include a minimum separation distance.  This option would in principle seek to satisfy the pressures being applied on the City Council to take this action, but would not be found acceptable by the Secretary of State.  Equally, opposition groups to turbine developments were not guaranteed to be satisfied if any spacing distances were not perceived by them to be adequate.  The creation of an appropriate evidence base would take time and impose a further funding burden on the existing Local Plan budget.  It would need a decision from Council to amend the policy and delay the progress of the Development Plan Document to adoption and place the Council at risk of costs awards against it at appeal for ignoring national policy guidance. 


Following the publication of the most recent guidance from the Government on 29th July 2013 the Officer recommendation was Option 1.        


Councillor Barry proposed, seconded by Councillor Hanson:-


“That the recommendation, as set out in the report, be approved.”


Councillors then voted:-


Resolved unanimously:


(1)        That Cabinet note the new guidance from DCLG on renewable and low carbon energy and that its revised policy in the publication version of the Development Management Development Plan Document complied with that guidance.  Furthermore it did not take steps to introduce separation distances between wind turbines and residential properties as to do so would be to ignore published national planning guidance.


Officer responsible for effecting the decision:


Chief Officer (Regeneration & Planning)


Reasons for making the decision:


The development of renewable energy is supported in the Council’s Corporate Plan and the Local Development Framework Core Strategy.  Wind turbine developments have significant impacts predominantly on rural communities and require careful balance between the national and local community interests as well as the impact on landscape and ecology in areas such as Lancaster District which have a significant number of areas of special environmental protection.  The creation of an evidence base to support any change in policy would incur additional expenditure, which could not be justified following the publication of new national guidance.



Supporting documents: