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Local communities are to be given more powers to block onshore wind farms, but also offered greater incentives to accept them, the government says. Planning guidance in England will be changed to ensure local opposition can override national energy targets. But the measures will see a fi ve-fold rise in the benefi ts paid by developers to communities hosting wind farms. The subsidies - worth about £100,000 a year from a medium-sized farm - could be used to reduce energy bills. Alternatively, the money could pay for energy effi ciencies in the host community or fund other local initiatives. The government said the measures would ensure local communities had a greater stake in the planning process. It said it expected the energy industry to improve its community benefi t packages by the end of the year.

Protection of landscape

This increase will be from £1,000 per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity per year, to £5,000 per MW per year, for the lifetime of the wind farm. This means a medium-sized 20 MW wind farm could produce a benefi ts package to the local community worth £100,000 a year. It will be up to local communities and developers to decide how any money is spent.

For example, a similar scheme run by the wind farm company RES at its Meikle Carewe operation, near Aberdeen, will see local residents get £122 off their annual electricity bills. Energy Secretary Edward Davey said: “It is important that onshore wind is developed in a way that is truly sustainable - economically, environmentally and socially - and today’s announcement will ensure that communities see the windfall from hosting developments near to them, not just the wind farm”.

“We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity,” said Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.

Extracted from BBC Local News website Full article can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business- 22791815

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