19th July 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Dereliction of duty (James Mackenzie)

There’s a lot of discussion presently about the 2km distance of wind turbines from dwellings.

As far as I can recall, Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) 6 requires local authorities to provide a spatial framework for windfarms over 20MW in size.

In this I believe it states that, in local authority deliberations, turbines should be sited no less than 2km from settlements in order to protect their amenity. It’s debatable what “amenity” means, but I would presume it includes health, or healthy living.

Shetland Islands Council produced, presumably in response to SPP6, a Draft Interim Planning Policy (IPP) on Windfarms over 20MW in November 2010, roughly coinciding with the end of the consultation period for the Viking Energy Addendum.

Responses had to be in by a date in December 2011, and I was told that the council would debate and decide on the Draft IPP in January 2012.

In the meantime the council approved the Viking windfarm, which clearly would have breached the terms of the Draft IPP.

Since then the Draft IPP, and the responses of consultees, have never been debated.

As a result the SIC has no policy on windfarms over 20MW, which to me would mean that it has ignored Scottish Planning Policy. It is a moot question whether the Scottish energy minister has acted similarly in granting planning consent for the Viking windfarm.

To my mind, there has been a dereliction of duty both locally and nationally in this respect. Whether this could legally be construed as impropriety remains to be seen.

James Mackenzie
The Lea,
Tresta.

2 comments

  1. John Kryton

    Is it true that the Scottish Government says wind turbines should not be erected within 2km of houses because this is unsafe? No. This is an inaccurate claim.

    The Scottish Government requires that each local authority identify broad areas of search for wind farm proposals and recommends these areas of search for planning guidance start 2km from the edges of cities, towns, villages and settlements.

    The broad area of search does not imply an exclusion zone nor a hard-and-fast rule and the Government emphasizes that constraints such as these “should not, in themselves, lead to blanket restrictions on development.”

    The site chosen by Viking was identified and recommended by Shetland Islands Council Planners in 2003 following consultation with SNH and RSPB, amongst others. The proposed site has no environmental designations. Viking’s proposals have been developed using actual assessments of impacts on actual households.

    There is no hard evidence that wind turbines that are within 2km of houses are unsafe or hazardous.

    Reply
  2. James Mackenzie

    John Kryton seems to have misundertood the points I was trying to make:

    I was not wriring about “safety” but health and amenity.

    Has the SIC identified “broad areas of search”? No, not officially, although recommended by the planning department.

    “Blanket restrictions on development”: of course not, provided developments adhere to SPP6, and draft IPP on windfarms over 20MW (yet to be approved by SIC).

    The site may not be designated, but blanket bog is a priority habitat, there may be issues over birds, and the European Landscape Convention, let alone the Scottish Land Use Strategy.

    Reply

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