A growing number of local communities across
The CPRE researchers claim to have discovered that such payments are often used for purposes such as lunch clubs and sports pitches, and that local authority planners have little or no oversight of them.
Paul Miner, senior planning campaigner at the CPRE, said: ‘These offers of community benefit do not go through the proper procedures of the planning system, unlike similar offers from most other developers. By accepting them, communities may also be getting a worse deal than they would if wind farm developers were made to offer them through the planning system.’
The CPRE’s investigation found that there have been least 35 cases, including at least one in every English region, of such goodwill payments being either offered to, or accepted by, local communities.
It added that three major wind farm developers – E.ON, Npower Renewables, and RES Limited, are routinely offering such goodwill payments in connection with every new development.
The investigation also found that the rate of payment typically being offered is less than half than what two councils in
To rectify the matter, the CPRE will be working with members of the House of Lords to press for amendments to the Planning Bill to outlaw the offering of goodwill payments in connection with any new development, and to make wind farm developers liable for the government’s proposed new Community Infrastructure Levy.
In addition it wants to earmark proceeds of the levy from new wind farms to go towards small-scale renewable energy, district heating and/or countryside improvement schemes in local communities.
The CPRE is also calling on the government to resist calls from the industry to take decision-making on most wind farm schemes away from local councils and give them to an unelected Infrastructure Planning Commission.