'Nimbyism' blocking the spread of wind farms

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The Independent Online

Local planning logjams are preventing renewable power projects being given the green light, according to research that reveals two out of three applications for onshore wind farms are being rejected.

Thirty three schemes have been turned down by local authorities in the past 18 months. Only 15 were approved, a study by environmentalists has found.

Wind power operators warned that schemes to provide the equivalent of eight conventional power stations were clogged up in the planning system sometimes for years and called for action to win over a "not in my back yard" element campaigning against new projects.

A survey by SERA, the Labour party environment campaign, revealed the scale of wind farm projects being turned down. The organisation, whose membership includes a number of cabinet ministers, warned that "nimby" councillors were turning down wind farms.

Campaigners said that authorities controlled by Labour approved 64 per cent of applications they considered but Tory controlled or led authorities accepted only 18 per cent of applications.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), which represents 360 power companies and suppliers, said Britain could fulfil its full potential for land-based wind power if the proposals currently going through the planning system were built.

The association warned that targets for Britain to develop renewable energy could be missed unless the planning system was improved. Andrew Pakes, co-chairman of SERA, said: "The Government is in a really difficult situation having expressed clear support for wind power but more than two-thirds of applications either being rejected or clogged up in the planning system locally.

"The figures also raise a serious challenge to David Cameron's claims to have reformed the Conservative Party. Time and again, we are seeing wind farms applications being rejected by Tory councillors."

Charles Anglin, communications director of the BWEA, said: "What you almost always find is a vocal minority of people get organised to oppose wind farms. The objection is usually visual. That is a legitimate view but it is a subjective one. There is a clear need to tackle climate change and that means changing the way we use and make energy."