Julian Sturdy – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Communities and Local Government

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Julian Sturdy on 2014-03-26.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the prevalence of wind turbine developers using the Community Right to Build scheme to circumvent the local planning process.

Kris Hopkins

The Community Right to Build allows local communities to undertake small-scale, site-specific, community-led developments. It may only be used by community organisations in which local people in the relevant neighbourhood area have a majority of the voting rights and have the majority on the board of directors or governing body of the organisation, and, include different people from at least 10 different addresses within the area. This means the Community Right to Build cannot be used by property developers, including wind turbine developers, to gain planning permission for their development proposal – unless that development is something that the community wishes to see and which the community initiates.

Proposals that require an Environmental Impact Assessment or are likely to have significant effects on a site protected under the Habitats Regulations are not eligible to use the Community Right to Build. Where proposals are eligible they will be tested by an independent examiner to see that they are appropriate in the light of national planning policy and generally conform with the strategic policies of the Local Plan for the area and any neighbourhood plans that are in force.

The National Planning Policy Framework is very clear that local councils should design their policies to ensure the adverse impacts of renewable energy developments are addressed satisfactorily. To help implement the environmental balance expected by the Framework, we issued new planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy last July. The guidance makes clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities.