Wind Farm (4): Getting involved

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If you have made up your mind about the proposed wind farm at Bagots Estate, then you may wish to get involved in the planning process to help promote your point of view. Although nothing formal can be done until an application is submitted to the planning authority - East Staffordshire Borough Council - you could start preparing yourself by understanding the issues and deciding whether you want to present your case personally, or to work with others who share your view.

Some general principles

Of fundamental importance is understanding the nature of the planning process. This is defined by legal statute and statutory guidance within a formally adopted development framework. Applications are not determined on the basis of the personal views of Councillors or Planning Officers. This means that any contribution you make that is not relevant to the formal development framework is likely to be immaterial to the planning process and so cannot be taken into account.

You should also realise that Councillors involved in the planning decision are required to consider the application on the basis of all the evidence submitted, and not on the basis of any pre-conceived ideas. The implication of this is that you will not be able to get such Councillors "on-side" to your view ahead of them having to formally review the application. They will be prepared to listen to what you have to say, but not to offer their own opinion. Pressing them to do so may have the opposite effect to the one you intend!

Local documents

In addition to the national documents such as the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and any current national polciy statements, any wind farm application in East Staffordshire will also be determined in the context of additional local documents which also form part of the overall development framework. These would include:

  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Structure Plan
  • (any additional supplementary planning guidance such as "Planning for Landscape Change")
  • East Staffordshire Local Plan
  • (any East Staffordshire supplementary guidance that applies)

Supporting the application

With the various commercial interests promoting the scheme, you might think there is no need to do anything if you are in support of the application. This may be true, but you might want to check out some of the sites on the Links page that are "pro" wind farms to confirm this. Some suggest that a vocal minority are arguing against wind farms while the vast majority are silent in their support.

Objecting to the application

Many of those who object to wind farms are initially concerned about the impact on property prices and having their view spoiled. Neither of these are "material considerations" in planning terms and no matter how passionately you present your case from these two angles, the planning officers cannot take them into account!

Effective opposition to wind farm applications requires an understanding of the planning law and development framework against which the application will be determined. Writing lots of letters to try and influence people may make you feel much better, but will have little effect compared to well argued reasons as to why the proposal is contrary to the development framework.

So, if you wish to oppose this development, you may find it more productive to be part of a group which can jointly research the issues and understand the basis on which other campaigns have been successful. There is also the potential for support from national organisations such as CPRE in building an effective case.

Other wind farm pages