The Queen’s Speech – and the potential effects on our region

View of the two Kessingland turbines from the nearby village of Henstead. Picture: James Bass

View of the two Kessingland turbines from the nearby village of Henstead. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

Local communities will have the final say in bids to build large scale onshore wind farms under plans set out in the Queen's Speech.

The Government is introducing an Energy Bill which will change the law to remove the need for the Energy Secretary to approve large wind farms of more than 50 megawatts (MW), schemes which would typically involve dozens of wind turbines.

The move, along with changes to planning policy, will mean that local authorities will have final say on such projects in England and Wales.

But as responsibility is transferred from Whitehall to local planning authorities, for villagers in Kessingland and Gisleham it is 'far too late,' following a long-running campaign to get two 126m high turbines switched off.

The turbines, next to the A12 near Lowestoft, became operational in June 2011 after years of appeals and hearings and eventual approval by a planning inspector and deputy high court judge.

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Operated by Triodos Renewables, the company says the turbines can generate enough electricity to power up to 3,000 homes. But locals said the changes won't 'make any difference' to their campaign.

They claim the turbines are blighting people's lives by creating noise and shadow flicker as they turn.

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Speaking for the Kessingland Wind Turbine Pressure Group, which has campaigned against the noise, Sue Kershaw said: 'It is too late. Lets hope that Waveney District Council will take notice of the Queen's Speech for all those that suffer in Kessingland and Gisleham.

'More than 500 calls and complaints have been logged against the turbines and residents are still ringing in about the noise.'

Another group member added: 'It will probably be a bit more helpful to others who have not got turbines, but for us who have put up with the noise nuisance, we doubt if it will make any difference.'

During last week's Queen's Speech, the Conservative party also committed to end new subsidies for onshore wind to deliver on a pledge to stop the spread of wind farms in the countryside, claiming the technology often fails to win public support, but measures to deliver on the promise are not included in the Bill and will be set out separately.

Industry body RenewableUK calculates that subsidies for onshore wind, one of the cheapest forms of low-carbon energy, added just £10 to the average consumer bill last year.

The Energy Bill also includes measures aimed at increasing energy security and boosting domestic oil and gas production, including giving the Oil and Gas Authority the powers to become a robust, independent regulator and enable it to maximise the economic recovery of oil and gas from UK waters.

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