17 Oct 2011
After 4 years of trying to secure planning permission, Honda and partners Ecotricity were refused planning last week to erect 3 wind turbines on the Honda car manufacturing site.
The Renewable Energy Centre was asked to comment on the decision by the BBC Wiltshire, Mark O’Donnell show.
Listen to the interview on the home page or read more below.
Angela Gallacher, from The Renewable Energy Centre expressed disappointment at the decision but highlighted the fact that many initial refusals are overturned by the appeal committee if the application was originally recommended for approval by local planning officers.
In the case of the Honda application, the planners had indeed recommended that the application should be approved but local opposition group Ill Wind seemed to have publically pressured councillors into accepting that the visual impact of the turbines was enough to refuse planning.
The PPS22 document in planning law states that a planning application cannot be refused on the grounds of visual impact alone. Although councillors did highlight visual impact as the main reason, objections about noise and flicker were also cited as concerns. There have been many studies completed regarding noise and flicker with regard to wind turbines and Defra has documented that these objections have not been found to be an issue for those living in the nearby proximity.
During the interview Angela highlighted the fact that a nearby DIY store warehouse which was currently being built would have much further reaching negative visual, environmental, traffic and pollution effects than one turbine. Opposition to this building scheme did not seem to be an issue for local residents.
Honda has said that it wants to be the world’s greenest car manufacturer and in order to achieve its goals in the UK, this refusal for wind turbines may mean the company considers a new manufacturing site elsewhere, therefore affecting the large employment opportunities it provides in Swindon.
According to Renewable UK, it is still by far a minority group of people who oppose wind turbines and as the UK’s EU targets become more urgent, many applications are likely to be approved on appeal.