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More industry measures are 'unnecessary'

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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The renewable energy industry has rejected a Lincolnshire MP's claim that more measures should be introduced to put communities "in the driving seat" on planning issues.

Planning minister Nick Boles reportedly wrote to fellow Conservative John Hayes stating the current system seemed to be "riding roughshod" over concerns about wind farms.

But green firms say introducing more changes is unnecessary and could jeopardise jobs and economic growth.

Mr Boles, who represents Grantham and Stamford, is quoted in a letter leaked to The Daily Telegraph saying proposals allowed on appeal by planning inspectors "can be bitterly resented".

He added: "We have been very clear that the Government's policies on renewable energy are no excuse for building wind farms in the wrong places.

"We need a package of measures that can command broad public support which is consistent with our emphasis on local and neighbourhood planning which puts local communities in the driving seat.

"We should be quite clear that local communities and their accountable councils can produce their own distinctive plans to help shape where developments should and should not take place."

Jennifer Webber, of the trade body RenewableUK, said the 2011 Localism Act already meant firms were working more closely with communities.

She said: "As that act was introduced by the present government, and overall it strikes the right balance, it's far too soon for another root and branch upheaval.

"Any more radical changes could undermine the confidence of developers and investors, potentially stifling economic growth and jeopardising tens of thousands of much-needed jobs."

Ecotricity, which wants to build a 22-turbine wind farm in Heckington, said the claim that planning decisions were taken out of local people's hands and passed through by the Planning Inspectorate was incorrect.

Spokesman Stuart Brennan added: "It should be remembered, too, that wind turbines are the only energy infrastructure projects where planning decisions are made at the local government level."

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