The High Court has ruled that Milton Keynes Borough Council acted unlawfully when they attempted to impose a buffer zone around residential areas following application for a wind farm by RWE nPower Renewables.

New rules

The council had hoped to set a precedent for other councils across the country by changing its development plan to include new rules which would block large wind turbines within 1.2km of any residential property. The Milton Keynes council had rejected two proposals by RWE nPower Renewables for wind farms based on “emerging” new policies regarding the buffer zones. This is despite current policies being in place which allowed wind farms at least 350 metres from homes.

The judge in the case stated that there was no justification for the buffer zone and that such a ban would impact on the UK’s renewable targets. This decision will open the door to further development close to residential areas and is welcome news for renewable companies in the area who had feared they would be blocked from development in Milton Keynes.

Development and projects director for RWE nPower Dr Wayne Cranstone has commented that the company wants to work in partnership with the council and that the wind farms will bring investment into the area including thousands of jobs and security of energy supply.

Arbitrary bans

Maf Smith from Renewables UK agrees that the government needs to get on with further renewables development and judgements like this will improve this target. He points out that councils should not impose arbitrary bans and buffer zones and they should treat each planning application on a case by case basis. He also says that two thirds of the British agree with wind turbines.

This is an opinion which is shared by Naomi Luhde-Thompson who claims that the short-sightedness of the council would have impacted on efforts to build a clean and reliable energy supply in all areas. She says that wind farms across the country have community backing and she suggests that locals should be given a financial stake in local wind farms.