Campaigners demand rule change on windfarm community ‘sweeteners’

New planning rules should be brought in to regulate the circumstances in which windfarm developers may offer “sweeteners” to influence the outcome of controversial planning applications.

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 2:07 pm
Save Our Hills is concerned about planning applicants "buying" support

Campaign group Save Our Hills said the practice whereby developers offer benefits or “inducements” on condition that they receive planning permission or in order to buy support is unacceptable, and that clear rules now need to be introduced.

It follows reports of Community Windpower Ltd offering to pay residents living near the Sanquhar ii project £100,000 so long as they didn’t complain about the proposed turbines.

It also offered to pay for a public swimming pool in Moffat and to fund the shortfall on the Star of the North, a monument to be installed at the border near Gretna, on condition that it obtained planning permission for the Scoop Hill windfarm.

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Save Our Hills said these are all questionable practices to a greater or lesser extent, and with more onshore windfarm applications expected across the country, the rules needed to be clarified and planning applications judged on their own merits alone.

Iain Milligan, spokesman for Save Our Hills, said: “The idea that a planning applicant can offer inducements to those who may oppose, particularly local authorities, is highly questionable.

“We need to make it clear now that, if you do submit an application, you can’t expect to be able to pay off those who might otherwise object.