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Renewable Energy Association responds to planning and climate change coalition

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has issued a response to the government’s planning and climate change coalition.

The coalition, organised by Friends of the Earth and the Town and Country Planning Association presented a draft guidance to Parliament on how the planning system could tackle climate change yesterday.

The guidance outlined proposals including setting renewable energy targets for local councils; a duty on local authorities to map out green energy opportunities in their area that would enable them to meet their targets; the establishment of a technical body to monitor progress and setting up an education programme on climate change for councillors and planners.

While the REA agreed with most of the guidance, it scrutinised the plan to map areas of land marked as suitable and unsuitable.

In a statement yesterday, chief policy officer at the REA, Gaynor Hartnell, said:

“We don’t think that mapping areas-of-opportunity would be helpful for renewable energy development. The REA feels such an approach has little to commend it. It has been used for wind energy in Wales and parts of Scotland, but has not been a success.”

He continued: “Those living in an area earmarked as suitable for wind will be sensitised. Project developers won’t get an automatic green light for a site within a zone, yet will find it all the harder for a site outside it.”

The Hartnell believes that planning is best left to wind energy developers to decide where to site projects, however, he is in support of town planners considering where to place them:

“By all means let’s have planners considering what contribution their areas could make and gaining a greater understanding of renewable energy, but let’s not have them drawing over maps.”

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