Factors affecting the planning permission of wind turbines

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Wind Turbine Building

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Despite recent political grumblings, wind power is already a major player in the quest for a sustainable future. With research being conducted into floating offshore turbines — of which £20m was contributed by the British Government — and flying turbines designed to tap into the vast potential of wind power in the atmosphere above, it’s safe to say wind turbines aren’t going away.

Landowners can utilize wind power using a traditional turbine. Sadly not all landowners can make use of a turbine, as there is a long list of conditions which must first be met.  The common misguided belief seems to be that wind turbines can be and are erected anywhere with very little consideration. The following are just some of the factors which make or break the long process of commissioning a wind turbine.


Wind conditions at the site

A good turbine supplier will not sell or lease you a wind turbine if the weather conditions at your site are not likely to generate enough power to make a significant impact on your power consumption.


Interference with current conditions

Planning permission for a turbine can’t be passed if the turbine will interfere with artificial conditions such as phone lines or aerospace radar.  Additionally, natural conditions such as the habitats of endangered species will also result in termination of planning permission.  ‘Impact on the landscape’ is also an important factor in granting planning permission.


Spatial conditions*

Turbines must be at least 55m from the nearest hedgerow in order to protect the local wildlife and 250m away from the landowner’s nearest neighbor. Distance from man-made structures such as dwellings, barns, and outbuildings, natural features such as trees and the topography of the land can also play an important role in whether a site is suitable for wind power generation as these factors may cause turbulence which can interfere the effectiveness of a turbine.

*Distances have been calculated in accordance with the popular E-3120 Endurance wind turbine and may vary for other models.


The human factor

Even if a turbine fulfils all of the conditions listed above, turbine planning permission can still be potentially blocked by ‘the human factor’.  It’s not uncommon for a turbine to be blocked or for a blocking attempt to be made by local committees and residents of the area who subscribe to the ‘not in my backyard’ attitude or who have a lack of understanding about wind power generation.

In spite of the many barriers which obstruct the path to affordable, clean power for landowners wind power is still growing. Many of these factors can be identified and eliminated through the site assessment phase of a turbine.

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