Mendip District Council studies wind turbines and solar farms

Solar panels in Nunney

An investigation into the impact of wind turbines and larger scale solar farms on the Mendip area is to be launched by Mendip District Council.

Solar panels in NunneyThe aim of the project is to better understand the positive and negative impacts of the installations on local communities.

The work is being lead by Cllr John North, as part of a Scrutiny Board task and finish group, and aims:

  • To look at the benefits and adverse effects of renewable energy infrastructure on local residents and gain their views on this infrastructure.
  • To weigh up the opportunities and threats to the Mendip area from the development of large scale renewable energy infrastructure and consider what would be an appropriate way forward.
  • To develop a technical understanding of the impact of wind turbines and solar farms on local communities and consider scientific data to quantify the benefits and risks around these installations.
  • To gain an understanding of why national politicians are encouraging councils to agree to the construction of large scale wind turbines and solar farms, including clarification on the guidelines coming from central government and the actual legal obligations that the council must follow.
  • To use an historic planning application as a case study to understand the impact of renewable energy on the local environment.

Nigel Woollcombe-Adams, portfolio holder for built environment, said: “Councils across the country are seeing an increasing number of planning applications for turbines and solar farms. They can often polarise communities with conflicting claims about the benefits and negative impacts from them and conflicting legislation and guidance coming from government.

“I welcome this piece of work as it will allow councillors to cut through the myths, assess the facts surrounding renewable energy installations and get a clearer picture of the where legislation that supports renewable energy sits in the planning process.”

As part of this work, the council is requesting written submissions from anyone who has evidence they feel should be considered as part of the investigation.

In addition, the council will hold a public event on 4th December at Wells Town Hall to allow verbal representations to be made. This event will be held in the style of a Select Committee and speakers will be given a 10-minute slot to present in.

Anyone wishing to submit written representations or request a speaking slot should contact Nick Jagger on 01749 341315 or [email protected]. Those people given a speaking slot will be sent details of the time or, if all the slots have been allocated, will be asked to make a written representation instead.

The task and finish group will consider all information received and report back to the Scrutiny Board in March 2014.