AN energy minister has given his support to a bid to limit how close wind turbines can be built to each other in Northumberland.
Conservative MP Greg Barker said on a visit to Tyneside that it was important councils recognise local concerns over the planning process.
He was speaking as pressure mounts on Northumberland County Council to follow a lead set by others and order minimum distances in legal planning guidelines.
The council’s planning chiefs are to consider the issue after the vast majority of people responding to a consultation called for guidelines to be drawn up.
Mr Barker, in the region to see how Newcastle City Council is helping introduce energy-saving measures into homes, said he understood the concerns.
He told The Journal: “The important thing about turbines is they have to be sensitive to local communities.
“They have many benefits but we do not want them in the wrong places. We are taking a number of measures to make sure local communities have a much greater say in where turbines go.
“I’m a great fan of the Shard, our tallest building in London, but I would not want it in the middle of my village in Sussex.
“And I think it is important we get the right turbines in the right places and local people are an important part of doing that properly.”
Asked if the Conservative party at a national level would back those councils opting for minimum distances between turbines, he said: “Absolutely. Wind power has a huge amount to offer, but getting them sensitively located and making sure local residents’ views are taken into consideration and that the distances are taken into account are all important aspects of that.
“And also to make sure local residents benefit, not only that we have them in communities but also if they host them they get some tangible benefits, be it money off energy bills or money towards local facilities, we want to see benefits.”
Mr Barker was speaking at Lemington in Newcastle, where 15 bungalows have benefited from an energy efficiency scheme, part of the council’s Go Early work. This initiative will help to ensure a smooth transition between existing arrangements for funding energy efficiency and the new Green Deal regime which will be launched nationally next year.
Mr Barker said: “I have seen here residents are having their homes improved and bills brought down. And the great thing about this Green Deal model is there is funding for the hard-to-treat homes. Even if you have quite expensive work the bill savings mean it is beneficial to have this work done.”