HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 cc393-4
10. Mr. Charles Kennedy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the adequacy of existing planning guidelines in respect of wind farms; and if he will make a statement. [29781]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

Planning policy guidance note 22, "Renewable Energy", provides comprehensive, robust and relevant advice on planning and wind farms in England. Our policy is to encourage the development of renewable energy sources so long as they are both economically attractive and environmentally acceptable.

Mr. Kennedy

I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that there is sensible all-party support for alternative sources of energy, not least renewables of this kind, but that, obviously, this needs to be balanced by the circumstances in each case? Will he consider—it is a typical example—the concern that exists in the highlands of Scotland, to which, I appreciate, his remit does not run in planning matters? Does he agree with the local planning authority there—this is as relevant south of the border—that these applications need to be conformable with local plans to ensure that the new brutalism that the Secretary of State has occasionally warned against is avoided at all costs?

Mr. Jones

As the hon. Gentleman says, the particular case is one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman: it is important to get the balance right. We all subscribe to renewable energy sources as a principle, but it is remarkable how rarely people are prepared to support their location in a particular instance. One of the things that local authorities can do is identify the best sites in their development plans so that they can be identified well in advance of any planning applications. That will serve to mitigate any controversy.

Mr. Gallie

Does my hon. Friend recall that, in the 1980s, the so-called green movement championed wind farms? Will he confirm that the principal objectors to such schemes these days are those who are allied to the so-called green movement?

Mr. Jones

I am sorry to have to say that my hon. Friend is right. Often, those who subscribe to these ideas in principle are those who then campaign against any particular application of them. In that respect, green pressure groups are no different from the Liberal party.

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