With recent news that local councils could be able to raise business rates from wind farms the question that planners and developers are considering, is will this mean council’s are more forthcoming in approving planning applications? With pressure from local residents groups, and anti-wind lobbyists, it leaves councillors and Local Authority Planners in a predicament. The benefits of collecting business rates will surely act as an incentive for cash strapped councils; however, as nearly all wind farms end up being determined at committee, it could lead to political suicide if local pressure groups, which consist of local voters, may move future support for politicians. I attended a committee meeting last week, where an application, which was recommended for approval for a single wind turbine was to be decided. The planning committee voted against the application, rejecting the proposal. What was more concerning was that a local councillor stated that he looked forward to the forthcoming localism bill, which would empower local communities further to resist turbine applications, the statement being met with shouts of support from councillors. This view, which admittedly was only shared at one individual planning committee, hopefully will not be shared at planning committees throughout the country. With over 50% of wind farm applications currently being refused by planning committees, this brings further complication to the localism bill, which seeks to further empower local residents and groups.
The proposal to give the councils the business rate will undoubtedly add another layer of complexity to the matter. The consultation to determine if the council receives the rates closes in October.