It's been widely reported in the media today that local residents affected by onshore wind farm proposals will be given the opportunity to "veto" the development.
That sounds like bad news for the future of onshore wind in the UK as passing on the decision for the deployment of wind farms to those people most affected by their presence is surely a death knell for onshore wind?
But there appears to be an anomaly between the soundbite announcement from Downing St "local residents will be able to stop unwanted wind farms" and the real thrust of the onshore wind call for evidence recently concluded by DECC ,the source of the government's review of onshore wind in the UK.
If you read the document in full (see link on right) it is obvious that the government is merely requiring that the protaganists of the onshore wind debate play by the rules that already exist.
The wind farm developers must properly consult with residents prior to any application and the local planning authorities must include in their local development plan, areas that are suitable for on shore wind and those that are not due to material impacts on the local surroundings, be it historic buildings or cumulative affects.
The call for evidence makes it plain that onshore wind remains a continuing essence in the UK's energy road map for the future. The government wants to encourage community ownership and it aims to promote the facts about the benefits and importance of onshore wind through "evidence tool kits" and training seminars to LPA's.
It has ramped up the recommended payments that developers should make to communities for the life of the wind farm to £5000 per MW (rated capacity) per annum (many developers already make payments at similar levels).
The challenge is for local authorities to stop putting their head in the sand over this issue and to accept the role that on shore wind has to play in our energy future. They will have greater powers to object to inappropriate wind farms but only if they have demonstrated that they have identified areas where onshore would be acceptable in a local development plan.
It seems to me that what has been reported to the press in soundbite form is a reaction to the divisive appeal of UKIP to many conservatives but is a total red herring when it comes to the reality of the situation. There is nothing in the proposals that gives the local residents an unconditional veto against onshore wind developments.
LPA's that behave responsibly on this issue by including a constructive on shore wind policy in their local development plan will gain some control over onshore wind in their areas because they will have demonstrated that they are not just saying no to every proposal.
The message is listen to the facts, understand the issues, behave responsibly in the national interest, avoid wasting taxpayers money on appeals for perfectly acceptable on shore wind proposals and gain the legitimacy to object to inappropriate proposals.
Are you listening ELDC?