THE last time a wind turbine was granted planning permission by West Lancashire councillors was back in 2011.
Despite assurances from the council and the chair of the planning committee, Cllr Edward Pope, that each wind turbine application will be judged on its merits, one councillor has controversially alluded to concerns that if one wind turbine application is granted, many will follow.
Conservative Cllr Rob Bailey who sits on the planning committee said: “A vast majority do not think that they are desirable, especially the land-based ones – people think that they are unsightly. People don’t like them too close to their properties
“There is also the issue of them being subsidised, the economics of the technology does not work. Wind turbines currently add £47-£50 to a household's annual bill. They may be green but they are not cheap.
“The benefits of wind turbines is unproven unlike fracking which I am in favour of. We need an energy that won't cost the working families.
“Another part of the reason for refusing wind turbine applications is that councillors feel that if you allow anything once then you are going to need a good reason for turning another one down.
Labour’s John Hodson, who is also on the planning committee, said he is concerned about the number of wind turbines being refused: “In planning terms, each application should be viewed on their own merits and suggesting something otherwise leaves yourself open to predetermination.
“There are less than helpful guidelines from central government but the main reason wind turbines are being turned down is because of the Ministry of Defence.
“The problem is that the MoD only has two officers in the whole country to deal with these applications.”
Cllr Hodson added: “I am generally in favour of wind turbines and you really have to stand next to them to appreciate how quiet they are.”
On the issue of refusing applications for fear of not being able to turn down others, committee chair, Cllr Pope, said: “That is a very interesting point and that is all I will say on the matter. Every individual planning application has to be looked at on its own individual merits.”
Despite the Liverpool City Region Renewable Energy Capacity Study, the Lancashire Sustainable Energy Study and national renewable energy targets, the council is not under any obligation to provide or set local targets for renewable energy.
A spokesperson for the council said that the planning policies regarding wind turbines were in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and added: “The council has approved a number of planning applications for wind turbines over the years. Some recent wind turbine applications have been refused for a variety of different reasons.
“These have included concerns over impacts on the visual amenity of an area and the character of the wider landscape, insufficient information to ensure adequate protection of ecological assets or residential amenity, and potentially presenting a hazard to the safe operation of the aircraft. These impacts were deemed to outweigh the environmental benefits which would be derived from the wind turbines.”