After reading in full the planning inspector's decision letter on Gayton wind farm, there is an interesting reference to the lack of a "realistic context" within the ELDC's local plan with regard to wind farms.
"The Local Plan is of considerable age and there are no saved policies relating to wind energy development. Any commercial wind farm would fall foul of the saved policies relating to landscape protection and I have found that this scheme would therefore conflict with the relevant saved policies. However, the Local Plan does not provide a realistic context for considering wind farm schemes and is therefore out of date. The Regional Plan contains policies supporting renewable energy schemes whilst also aiming to protect the landscape and is consistent with the NPPF."
ELDC's latest Draft core strategy Oct 2012 has a chapter on renewable energy. It is the penultimate one, which may be an indication of the importance of renewable energy to the authors.
"The Council is keen to encourage the exploitation of a range of renewable energy sources that have potential in East Lindsey, including passive and photovoltaic solar, biomass, ground and air source heating and aquifer thermal energy where this will not impact adversely on local communities, biodiversity or landscape character."
Spot the missing technology!
By ignoring the potential of wind and it's importance to the government's strategy in the UK energy road map to 2020, ELDC are in danger of becoming an irrelevance in the planning process. This is not a situation that we should encourage or support, regardless of our views on wind turbine deployment.
The Council's position on all large scale renewable developments..including wind farms is further clarified further on in the chapter on renewable energy.
"Large-scale Renewable Energy developments will only be supported where they are located outside and do not have a significantly adverse impact upon: landscape areas defined as highly sensitive in the East Lindsey Landscape Character Assessment and areas adjacent thereto; the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and where their individual or cumulative impact is not considered to have a negative impact on residential amenity; surrounding distinctive landscape qualities, townscapes and historic landscape character; the context of a historic garden, park, battlefield, designated conservation area or other Heritage Assets; sites or features of natural history importance or protected species; the local economy; highway safety; and water environment and water quality."
It is unrealistic of the council to demand that a large scale renewable energy development should have no impact on the location in which it is sited. A wind farm by it's very size and construction will have visual impact on our landscape and many people would see that as negative in comparison to that which already exists.
The "realistic context" that the inspector refers to in the decision letter requires our local authority to understand the challenges that face the nation's energy supply and accept the importance of wind farms (and other large scale renewable energy developments) to the UK's future energy mix.
If our council wish to have a meaningful voice in the deployment of wind farms in our district they must adopt a strategy on large scale renewable energy development that reflects the importance of the issues involved at a national level and not on the purely parochial.